Money-for-mods-gate: Valve gives masterclass in how to lose gamers and alienate people

Whoops, maybe butting into Skyrim was a bad idea

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

A week ago, gaming darling Valve set up an online store allowing designers to sell game mods. Now, after a backlash from gamers, the Half-Life biz has shut it down.

The Steam giant wanted to give small-time developers a chance to flog paid-for Skyrim mods – think of mods as expansion packs that bring in new graphics, weapons, missions, and so on, that are mostly built by players rather than the game's original developer.

The majority of mods are distributed for free. Chunks of the gaming community weren't happy with Valve championing commercial mods – especially with Valve and Skyrim maker Bethesda taking a hefty cut of each mod sale.

A mod could still be distributed for free, if its authors so wished, although if one free mod relies on another paid-for mod, the player will have to ultimately pony up.

After days of protest, Valve has written off the store as an epic fail of judgement.

"We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating," Valve said in its mea culpa.

"We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here."

Valve announced the payment system last week, admitting three-quarters of each mod sale will be shared among Valve and Bethesda.

Now it's been shut down, Valve said it will refund buyers, and said Bethesda had signed off on the agreement.

In bowing out of the pay-per-mod plan, Valve CEO Gabe Newell had the following to contribute over the weekend: "Yes ... pissing off the internet costs you a million bucks in just a couple of days." ®

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