Should Mod Developers Start Charging Small Fees?

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As games become more complex mod development becomes more arduous and time consuming. After the release of Half-Life 2, I was really hoping for some incredible mods. There have been a few good ones here and there, but we obviously haven’t seen anything close to the fanfare that surrounded some of the mods built on the original Half-Life. Another year has slipped by and my hopes are fading. Could it be time for a new development model?

While free games are fantastic, I feel like it might be time for mod developers to start charging small fees. Before you get all riled up, just think about it for a bit. To me, it just makes sense. I think mod developers should start charging less than $5 for version 1 of their mod and take pre-orders for beta access – I know how obsessed people can become with one mod, hoping every day that it will be released. The following are just some of the initial reasons that come to mind:

  • Mod developers are dedicated to the communities, even more than some game developers. It seems like most are open to extensive feedback and take suggestions seriously.
  • Some mods offer an incredible amount of gameplay hours. Were you one of the obsessive Counter-Strike fans? Day of Defeat? The list goes on.
  • Mod developers have little to nothing to work with. The volunteer system that most mod teams follow is something that is really fantastic but I think some basic funding could really go a long ways to pay for simple things such as web hosting.
  • Just like regular games, instead of fighting for a beta spot, customers who pre-order a mod could gain early access. Early funds could help glue a team together and make its life more promising; several mod teams just seem to fall apart in development.
  • A successful mod could be very profitable. Why not reward the mod developers for creating something amazing? Instead of being swallowed by a large developer, a successful mod team could go on to create a new game studio.
  • More quality mods would equal more platform gameplay, which would help to raise PC gaming’s image.

I’m obviously not someone who believes that PC gaming is on a rapid decline. However, it’s easy to see that fewer games with large budgets are being released and some publishers seem to care much less about the PC. Successful and profitable mod teams could give PC gaming an entirely new meaning and could be a huge boost for the platform and its fans.


7 Responses to Should Mod Developers Start Charging Small Fees?

  1. Name says:

    Depends on how good the mod is.. The Crysis Living Legends MOD (MECHWARRIOR) is awesome and maybe they should have a fee when they release it.. its in beta now.

  2. Name says:

    DIdn't the Gary's mod starting out as a mod? 🙂

  3. Gary Barlow says:

    I don't see anything wrong in developers allowing mod makers to ask for a donation via a PayPal button.

    Certain classic games (Morrowind for example) could be packaged as a 2012 “10th anniversary fan edition” with all the very best of the 1000s of mods ready-installed, tweaked and bashed into compatibility. In such a case, Bethesda should be sharing revenues fairly with the mod makers involved.

  4. chief1983 says:

    Most games probably have some terms in the licensing preventing mod devs from requiring any compensation for mods based on the game. Even if not, most of mod teams you referred to have gone on to successful jobs in the gaming community, so even though their original mods were free, they're now making a living doing what they loved in first place, albeit under a more corporate umbrella, but that's their choice. I would never be allowed to charge for the Fate of the Galaxy mod, but the FreeSpace source code was released under a very restrictive license that prevents such things.

  5. EndlessWaves says:

    For mods like Mobile Forces, Counter Strike and Killing Floor that are total conversions I think they should continue as they are and either release as a separate game or keep the mod available for free but put out an identical boxed version as well. Having both free and premium players in the same game has never worked well as far as I know.

    Turning non-TC mods into DLC? I think it's a bad idea for the same reasons other mid-game commercial extras are. It raises the entry barrier in both cost and time, is difficult to price fairly and is very difficult to properly integrate into many games.

  6. bjorn2404 says:

    Of course, I forgot about the game licensing. Maybe the game developers should allow the mod developers to charge small amounts (max of $10 maybe) and take a cut of the sale price – maybe 1 – 2%.

  7. bjorn2404 says:

    Of course, I forgot about the game licensing. Maybe the game developers should allow the mod developers to charge small amounts without a full license (max of $10 maybe) and take a cut of the sale price – maybe 1 – 2%.

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