Paid Modding

My economic philosophy has been for as long as I’ve had one is: Prolonged supernormal profits is only possible by placing barriers against competition.

So for me many arguments against paid modding can be dismissed almost out of hands. Does paid modding allow companies to make out like fat cats? Does it increase barriers to entry? No, in fact it might reduce them if what certain commentators say about about modding companies possibly becoming a thing comes true.

The specific argument, as seen here for example, of this allowing companies to offload the risk and investment onto modders and simply collect the cash might be somewhat true in the short term, but in the longer run studios will be creating games with an awareness of this additional revenue steam, and more importantly, be competing against studios who do likewise.

The argument that certain games really relied on free modding to survive and thrive have been made. Well, if those companies wish to continue being successful while still getting paid for the third party DLC then they’ll have to lower the cost of the base game or add in some more content to make it worth it, and of course this isn’t some piece of legislation or something that moved the rights from game companies to  mod makers, but a new avenue that game companies can choose to do. The makers of Killing Floor 2, for example, aren’t going to allow for paid modding.

There are also claims that the 25% that the modders are allowed to keep. Honestly, I find it hard to believe in the sincerity of the argument. It is a price set by players that only have market power in that they’re the best examples that modders want to work with. Are gamers full to the brim of Aquinas fans that are intently focused on the just price?

On the subject of curation and that people could simply take the ideas of others and to be paid that way. My view is that that’s true for an awful lot of things that are distributed digitally. I’ve read many blogposts in order to keep this from being a strawman slaying contest, but I’ve yet to hear any arguments on the fundamental uniqueness of modding that as someone who is a basic outsider from all this seems to be at the heart of it.

The overlapping rights issue is a big one. The idea that some mods aren’t just built on the base game, but rely on other mods to function. This is two issues. One is base modders who don’t want other modders to profit off their work, and there is are also tiered modders who don’t want their potential players further limited by having to buy the base mod. On the second issue, I think it can be solved with a new base mod coming into play, and if one isn’t able to be  built then perhaps the original base modder deserved to be paid after all. The first issue can be solved by simply modding for games that have given a commitment to no paid modding. You don’t want to mod one of those game, you want to mod this game? Y’know, you’re sounding entitled.

One argument that I do find convincing is ‘I’m a consumer and I find this distasteful’, however this isn’t one I see being made and although opponents of paid modding ought to make their views heard so that game companies can hear them, I think they should make their tone nicer for those that don’t share their tastes.


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