For the past few Junes, right before one of the busiest gaming weeks of the year, we ve taken a moment to imagine the E3 press conference that PC Gamers deserve. It s become one of our tiny traditions (along with Chris questionable behavior in survival games). Mostly it s an excuse for us to publish something entirely detached from reality before we fly to Los Angeles and publish every scrap of gaming news and opinion that our bodies will allow. It s therapeutic to daydream about Gabe Newell materializing atop a unicorn through a fog of theater-grade dry ice to announce Half-Life 3.
We get valuable stories, videos, and interviews out of E3—you can imagine how handy it is to have almost every game-maker gathered under one roof for a few days. But it s no secret that the PC doesn t have a formal, organized presence during E3. Generally speaking it s the time of year when Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo jostle for position about who can create the most buzz. Despite being a mostly exciting few days of announcements, E3 has never given the biggest gaming platform in the world an equal place at the table.
That s our collective fault, not E3 s. One of our hobby s greatest strengths is the fact that there isn t a single owner. The PC has no marketing arm, no legal department, no CEO to dictate what should be announced or advertised. And thank Zeus for that. The fundamentally open nature of our hobby is what allows for GOG, Origin, Steam, and others to compete for our benefit, for the variety of technologies and experiences we have access to—everything from netbook gaming to 8K flight simulation to VR.
Everyone involved in PC gaming has shared ownership over its identity. One of the few downsides of that, though, is that there isn t really a single time and place for PC gaming to get together and hang out. We love BlizzCon, QuakeCon, DreamHack, Extra Life, The International, and the ever-increasing number of PAXes. But there s something special about the pageantry of E3 week, its over-the-top showmanship, its surprises, its proximity to Hollywood. And each June, even as we ve jokingly painted a picture of PC game developers locking arms in a musical number, we ve wanted something wholly by, for, and about PC gaming.
Well, hell, let s do it.
For the past few months we ve been organizing the first ever live event for PC gaming during E3, The PC Gaming Show. Tune into our Twitch channel on Tuesday, June 16 on 5 PM and you ll see a spectrum of PC gaming represented on stage: a showcase of conversations, announcements, hardware, trailers, and other stuff that makes PC gaming great. We ve been talking to everyone we know, big and small—if there s a game or developer you want to see—tell us! So far, Blizzard, AMD, Bohemia Interactive, Boss Key Productions, Paradox, Dean Hall, Tripwire, and more have signed up to be a part of this inaugural PC gaming potluck (Paradox has promised to bring nachos), and we ll be announcing more participants as we lead up to June 16. And hey, the endlessly friendly Day is hosting. We love that guy.
We re sincerely, stupidly excited about this. The PC gaming renaissance we re all living in deserves a moment of recognition during the biggest gaming expo of the year—it s about time! Listen in on Twitter and on our Facebook page as we share more details leading up to June.
Robin Scott started building websites to support the modding community in 2001 when he was 14-years-old. In 2007, he started a company to support his site, TES Nexus, as it became the main source for distributing Oblivion mods, and today Nexus Mods hosts “115,674 files for 173 games” and has almost 9 million registered users. If anyone knows what the modding community cares about, and exactly what mods can do for the good of games and gamers, it’s him.
In the wake of Steam’s inclusion of paid-for mods, and just a few hours before their eventual removal, I spoke to Scott about whether creators should be able to charge for mods, how he would have done things differently, and what any of this means for the future of the Nexus. Even in the wake of Valve pulling the system down (for presumed later return), his thoughts are an interesting look at the issues at hand
RPS: Firstly, what do you feel about paid mods in theory? Ignoring their current implementation, do you think there’s a way to do it that good for both developers, mod creators and mod players? Are mods something which should be free on principle?
… [visit site to read more]
Valve are known for their odd experiments, from Team Fortress 2 hats to – heck! – Steam itself, but they tend to roll with them no matter what the reception, polishing these oddities up with force of will and years of refinement. Their plan to support selling mods through Steam, however, has gone back to the drawing board.
They launched a pilot scheme last week with Skyrim, and had planned to start letting other devs enable paid mods for their own games if they wished. Instead, they’ve removed paid mods from Skyrim, refunded everyone who bought mods, and confessed that “it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.”
… [visit site to read more]
[Update: Despite Bethesda publishing this post defending paid Skyrim mods only an hour ago, the program has since been pulled from Steam following discussions with Valve. The original story can be found below, we'll have more as it breaks.]
To put it lightly, the rollout of paid Skyrim mods on Steam hasn't been without pain. An awful lot of people think mods should be universally free, a point they're making by gumming up the works with silliness; others have objected to the relatively small slice of the pie—25 percent—that mod makers will earn on the sales of their creations. But Bethesda says its early discussions with Valve confirmed "quite clearly" that allowing mod makers to earn money on their work boosted both the quality and the quantity of the mods available to gamers.
"We have a long history with modding, dating back to 2002 with The Elder Scrolls Construction Set," it wrote in a new Bethesda Blog post. "It s our belief that our games become something much more with the promise of making it your own." There are downsides: The availability of mods is one of the reasons Oblivion was re-rated from T to M, "costing us millions of dollars," it continued. Even so, "while others in the industry went away from it, we pushed more toward it."
The initial discussions between Bethesda and Valve actually began in 2012, and right from the outset it insisted that the Marketplace had to be open rather than curated. "At every step along the way with mods, we have had many opportunities to step in and control things, and decided not to," it wrote. "We wanted to let our players decide what is good, bad, right, and wrong. We will not pass judgment on what they do."
The post confirmed that Valve gets 30 percent of all mod sales, which it described as "standard across all digital distribution services." Bethesda itself takes 45 percent, and the mod makers gets the remaining 25 percent. But it denied that the relatively steep take represents some kind of "money grabbing scheme," noting that mod sales, even during the past weekend when Skyrim was free, made up less than one percent of its total Steam revenues. At the same time, while the 25 percent cut "has been operating on Steam successfully for years," it left open the door for adjustments, saying, "If it needs to change, we'll change it."
Most people don t know, but our very own Skyrim DLC has zero DRM. We shipped Oblivion with no DRM because we didn t like how it affected the game
As for the long term impact of paid mods, Bethesda acknowledged that there is the potential for damage but said most of the implications are positive. "Not only do we want more mods, easier to access, we re anti-DRM as far as we can be. Most people don t know, but our very own Skyrim DLC has zero DRM. We shipped Oblivion with no DRM because we didn t like how it affected the game," it wrote. "There are things we can control, and things we can t. Our belief still stands that our community knows best, and they will decide how modding should work. We think it s important to offer choice where there hasn t been before."
Our own Tyler Wilde gave some early opinion on the good and bad of paid mods last week, and we also published a guest editorial on the matter from a modder earlier today. Meanwhile, Garry's Mod creator Garry Newman and Gabe Newell have weighed in on the matter, but despite their positive takes the petition demanding an end to paid mods has climbed to more than 130,000 signatures. Offering choice is good, but this is clearly going to be a hard sell for both Bethesda and Valve.