Garry’s Mod creator on paid Steam mods: ‘I’m all for it’

The creator of Garry’s Mod — originally a mod to Half-Life 2 sold for real money — has weighed in on Valve’s introduction of paid mods in its Steam Workshop, a development that roiled the PC gaming community this week. “It’s probably no big surprise that I’m all for it,” Garry Newman writes.

“I sold a mod once and everyone was angry that it was happening,” Newman says, “until it happened and they got a much better product than they’d have gotten when it was released for free.”

Garry’s Mod, introduced more than 10 years ago, later became a standalone game with mods appended to it, some of them also sold for money. Newman proffered that he’s aware of that. “Doesn’t it make sense that we bring that into Steam so those transactions can be trusted by both parties?” he wrote. “Obviously it’s going to be hard to convince those guys to move their mods to Steam and lose 75 percent of their profits, but we’ll see what wiggle room we have on that.”

“This is something that will get better with time.”

Newman isn’t entirely in Valve’s corner on this, though. He lists the pros and cons for the groups interested and says that, yes, a paid-mod model benefits Valve and developers/publishers more than modders. “That’s the wrong way around in my opinion,” he says. “The modders should be getting the majority share of the revenue in this.”

Under the current terms of the model, mod developers get 25 cents for every dollar in sales, with Valve and the originating game’s developer splitting the rest. Further, cash payouts may begin only after a $100 threshold is reached.

“It’s obvious that Valve and the game developer need to make money here too, enough to cover costs at least — but it’s the modder’s work that is making the money,” Newman says. “I don’t know whose choice that is though, but it feels like someone is being a greedy asshole. This is something that will get better with time.”

This week Valve introduced plans to sell mods in Steam Workshop, beginning with The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, which has seen some 24,000 free mods and player-made items since its launch in 2011.

While Newman says players “don’t have to buy anything,” and that someone offering a mod at an unreasonable price will not succeed under a free-market model, there are always alternatives.

“[F]ind a way to pirate them. That’s what we all did when we were kids with no money,” he said. “Valve’s job is to make it more convenient for you to not pirate stuff.”