Nexus Mods, one of the largest mod sites and communities with more than 13 million registered users, will introduce a donation-type system in 2018 to compensate those who create popular and useful mods.
The compensation system is indirect and complicated, and nothing like the brief period of paid mods sold on the Steam Workshop, which began with Skyrim mods. The compensation the modders receive will come out of a monthly pool initiated by Nexus Mods (at a value between $5,000 and $10,000) and supplemented by users who wish to donate.
From there, modders who have opted into the system will receive a points distribution that is based on the number of unique downloads of their works and corresponds to the prize pool. (Unique downloads means one user per mod author, not one user per mod. So someone with 14 mods all downloaded by one user would have no advantage in the pool scheme over a person with one mod downloaded by two different users.)
The points modders receive are redeemable in Nexus Mods’ storefront, though they can also be converted to cash as a PayPal remittance or an Amazon gift card. Robin Scott, the owner of Nexus Mods, said that he hoped the storefront would offer items and options desirable to modders.
“The plan is to offer popular games from storefronts like Steam, Humble Bundle or GOG, subscriptions and software licenses for popular software that modders use for their modding or would like to use but can't afford and even PC hardware, for example, video cards, motherboards, memory and so on and so forth,” Scott said.
That said, Scott acknowledged the potential for controversy and disappointment in setting up such a system.
“I understand this is going to be contentious for some people, especially in regards to big mods that already have a multitude of unique downloads within the community,” he wrote. “But unfortunately there are restrictions with our stat tracking that will not enable us to, for example, count all downloads from the start of this scheme as having been reset and ‘unique’ from that point on.”
Scott went on to explain more details of the system — modders can accumulate their points month over month, and won’t lose them if they don’t spend them. Charitable giving options will be included if modders don’t wish to redeem their points for anything (including giving the points to another modder).
An FAQ on the Nexus Mods site explains the setup in greater detail — including the question on everyone’s mind: What about Bethesda Softworks?
What Nexus Mods proposes is not the same thing as the paid mods fiasco on Steam in April 2015. Nor is it the same as the Bethesda Creation Club mod portal that opened in September for games on PC as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That is a closed system whose content is put through Bethesda’s full internal development cycle. Users don’t pay for any of the mods; outside mod creators are compensated as external contractors.
Still, Nexus Mods’ plans could be seen as competitive to the Creation Club, especially if Nexus modders are receiving some consideration for work done with Bethesda’s content. Scott said he is not concerned that this will trouble Bethesda.
“Bethesda have made it very clear over the years that if you force them to give you an answer on a particular issue it's much easier for them to say ‘no’ than it is to say yes,” Scott noted. “However, if you simply get on with it and don't ask them, they don't need to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ and they'll let you know if they have a very serious issue with it.”
Scott is correct, to a point; Bethesda could change its mind at any point for any reason. Projects such as Skywind may not have the company’s official blessing, but what they are doing with Bethesda content isn’t obnoxious to the publisher, either.
“If [Bethesda is] adamant that [mod donations have] to be removed then I will remove it for any Bethesda games we host, as I'm sure you can appreciate getting into a legal fight over this wouldn't be prudent,” Scott wrote.
There is a lot more detail on how the donation system will work and how creators can opt-in (it is opt-in only). The program will launch sometime in the first quarter of 2018, with Scott’s hope being the end of January or beginning of February.