Late last week Valve, the company behind the Steam digital distribution service for PC games, announced it would allow creators of mods for the popular open world role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to charge for their creations.
However, the company has reversed its decision following massive backlash from users since launch.
"We're going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim Workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we'll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree," said Valve employee Alden Kroll in a post on Valve's site.
"We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing. We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different."
Meanwhile, Skyrim's publisher, Bethesda took to its blog to first justify the revenue split between Valve and Bethesda which left a paltry 25 percent for mod creators. The post then got updated to include the following statement:
"After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear - this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you."
All of this comes after Valve co-founder Gabe Newell decided to take to Reddit to address user concerns.
"Our goal is to make modding better for the authors and gamers," Newell said in reply to one Redditor. "If something doesn't help with that, it will get dumped. Right now I'm more optimistic that this will be a win for authors and gamers, but we are always going to be data driven."
Hundreds of negative reviews began flooding the Skyrim store page on Steam after the launch of paid mods. Gamers raised several points in their reviews, with complaints ranging from the revenue split that saw only a 25 percent share go to the mod creator, to worries about how the quality of mods would deteriorate with mod makers pushing out content just to make a quick buck. Several of the users also pointed to how they use more than one mod with Skyrim, implying overall expenses that would be more than the game's price at launch.
The refrain through all the reviews was that while The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a good game to play, it is an amazing game only because of the huge mod community around it and the innumerable mods available. Several Change.org petitions were filed, while gamers almost unanimously said a donate button (where all money would go to the mod maker) would be a better idea than allowing for paid mods.
While the launch of paid mod support for Skyrim was a high-profile one, what with the popularity of the game, it certainly wasn't the first non-Valve game to get the paid Steam Workshop content feature.
Valve in January extended paid Steam Workshop content from Valve games to Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, however, these are were curated mods - while Skyrim was given an 'open market'. So far, the companies have not announced any decision to remove paid mod support for these games, which also had different revenue splits.