Why we’re trying paid Skyrim mods on Steam (Updated)

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Update: After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.

 

Original Post: We have a long history with modding, dating back to 2002 with The Elder Scrolls Construction Set. It’s our belief that our games become something much more with the promise of making it your own. Even if you never try a mod, the idea you could do anything is at the core of our game experiences. Over the years we have met much resistance to the time and attention we put into making our games heavily moddable. The time and costs involved, plus the legal hurdles, haven’t made it easy. Modding is one of the reasons Oblivion was re-rated from T to M, costing us millions of dollars. While others in the industry went away from it, we pushed more toward it.

We are always looking for new ways to expand modding. Our friends at Valve share many of the same beliefs in mods and created the Steam Workshop with us in 2012 for Skyrim, making it easier than ever to search and download mods. Along with Skyrim Nexus and other sites, our players have many great ways to get mods.

Despite all that, it’s still too small in our eyes. Only 8% of the Skyrim audience has ever used a mod. Less than 1% has ever made one.

In our early discussions regarding Workshop with Valve, they presented data showing the effect paid user content has had on their games, their players, and their modders. All of it hugely positive. They showed, quite clearly, that allowing content creators to make money increased the quality and choice that players had. They asked if we would consider doing the same.

This was in 2012 and we had many questions, but only one demand. It had to be open, not curated like the current models. At every step along the way with mods, we have had many opportunities to step in and control things, and decided not to. We wanted to let our players decide what is good, bad, right, and wrong. We will not pass judgment on what they do. We’re even careful about highlighting a modder on this blog for that very reason.

Three years later and Valve has finally solved the technical and legal hurdles to make such a thing possible, and they should be celebrated for it. It wasn’t easy. They are not forcing us, or any other game, to do it. They are opening a powerful new choice for everyone.

We believe most mods should be free. But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don’t think it’s right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create.

We also don’t think we should tell the developer what to charge. That is their decision, and it’s up to the players to decide if that is a good value. We’ve been down similar paths with our own work, and much of this gives us déjà vu from when we made the first DLC: Horse Armor. Horse Armor gave us a start into something new, and it led to us giving better and better value to our players with DLC like Shivering Isles, Point Lookout, Dragonborn and more. We hope modders will do the same.

Opening up a market like this is full of problems. They are all the same problems every software developer faces (support, theft, etc.), and the solutions are the same. Valve has done a great job addressing those, but there will be new ones, and we’re confident those will get solved over time also. If the system shows that it needs curation, we’ll consider it, but we believe that should be a last resort.

There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn’t replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop than he made in all the years he asked for donations.

Revenue Sharing

Many have questioned the split of the revenue, and we agree this is where it gets debatable. We’re not suggesting it’s perfect, but we can tell you how it was arrived at.

First Valve gets 30%. This is standard across all digital distributions services and we think Valve deserves this. No debate for us there.

The remaining is split 25% to the modder and 45% to us. We ultimately decide this percentage, not Valve.

Is this the right split? There are valid arguments for it being more, less, or the same. It is the current industry standard, having been successful in both paid and free games. After much consultation and research with Valve, we decided it’s the best place to start.

This is not some money grabbing scheme by us. Even this weekend, when Skyrim was free for all, mod sales represented less than 1% of our Steam revenue.

The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player base and built in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales data, we’re looking at some modders making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited.

We also look outside at how open IP licenses work, with things like Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, where you can publish fan fiction and get about 15-25%, but that’s only an IP license, no content or tools.

The 25% cut has been operating on Steam successfully for years, and it’s currently our best data point. More games are coming to Paid Mods on Steam soon, and many will be at 25%, and many won’t. We’ll figure out over time what feels right for us and our community. If it needs to change, we’ll change it.

The Larger Issue of the Gaming Community and Modding

This is where we are listening, and concerned, the most. Despite seeming to sit outside the community, we are part of it. It is who we are. We don’t come to work, leave and then ‘turn off’. We completely understand the potential long-term implications allowing paid mods could mean. We think most of them are good. Some of them are not good. Some of them could hurt what we have spent so long building. We have just as much invested in it as our players.

Some are concerned that this whole thing is leading to a world where mods are tied to one system, DRM’d and not allowed to be freely accessed. That is the exact opposite of what we stand for. 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.

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.

We will do whatever we need to do to keep our community and our games as healthy as possible. We hope you will do the same.

Bethesda Game Studios

Reviews are in for The Evil Within: The Consequence

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Ready for more survival horror?

With a few days of release under its belt, positive reviews for The Evil Within’s newest DLC, The Consequence, have made their way online. In particular, reviewers are highlighting the game’s storyline, chilling atmosphere, and memorable boss battles.

Highlights include:

Game Revolution (8/10) — “The Evil Within’s story can be hard to follow with all its moving parts and multi-dimensional layers. But there are a lot of fans out there, including myself, who find it fascinating. If you’re one of these people, The Consequence is a must-play as it addresses questions left unanswered at the end of the the main story by allowing you to see what happens from Juli Kidman’s perspective. Things are not as they seem.”

Bloody Disgusting (8/10) — The Evil Within had some memorable bosses, but there are a few here that give them a run for their money. The final boss is just good enough to make me think the whole point of Juli’s story was so Mikami could swoop in and finish it off with a bang.

Videogamer.com (8/10) — Its conclusion is at least as satisfying as that found in the main game, and probably more so given the revelations it contains.

God is a Geek (8/10) — “The Consequence wreaks havoc on the nerves…”

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In case you missed it, The Consequence follows up the events of The Evil Within’s 1st DLC, The Assignment. As for what’s next for The Evil Within… stay tuned for more information on the game’s final DLC, The Executioner.

Roundup – Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

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Believe it or not, we’re less than two weeks away from the release of the standalone prequel to last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, here we come!

Over the last few weeks on our Wolfenstein Facebook page, we’ve been sharing concept images and in-game created by the team at MachineGames. This past week’s contributions, created by artist Christoffer Lovéus, provide background on SS Paranormal Division’s astute and archaeology-obsessed leader, Helga Von Schabbs.

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What are Helga’s motives? And what exactly makes her so evil. To give some background on her character, here’s MachineGames’ Senior Narrative Designer, Tommy Tordsson Björk :

“Helga is an adventurous, intelligent and obsessive tomb raider, completely callous to the suffering of others, who likes to indulge in finely aged reds from the wine cellar in Castle Wolfenstein. Coming from a noble background, she was infected with polio as a child leaving her with a stiff leg.

She is driven by the need to control her fate and make an everlasting mark on history. For Helga, joining the Nazis was, besides being appealed by the ideology, a means to accomplish this end. Through her archaeological research, she is trying to connect her blood-line to King Otto, the Holy Roman Emperor.”

If you’ve missed any of our other preview art, check out the slideshow below featuring some of the highlights, and LIKE the official Wolfenstein Facebook page to see new content first. And elsewhere, we recommend checking out Executive Producer Jerk Gustafsson interview with Gamespot, as well as his newly-minted podcast with Xbox’s Major Nelson.


Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

Between now and launch on May 5th, we’ll have plenty more to share on The Old Blood — gameplay content, written features, and more.

Skyrim Weekend: You Can’t Beat Free

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To coincide with the newly announced updates to the Skyrim Workshop, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to be more accessible than ever. Freely accessible!

If you don’t already own Skyrim, between now(4/23/15 @ 1pm EST) and Monday at 1pm EST, you’ll be able to download and play the base version of Skyrim as much as you want for free. You can even download free mods from the Workshop to enhance your experience.

On top of being able to play for free, this weekend we’ve got some pretty big savings on all content for Skyrim. Deals include:

  • Skyrim Legendary Edition – 66% off/$39.99 or $13.60
  • Skyrim Main Game 75% off/$19.99 or $5
  • Dawnguard 62.5% off/$19.99 or $7.50
  • Dragonborn 62.5% off/$19.99 or $7.50
  • Hearthfire 50% off/$4.99 or $2.50

Note: To be able to access paid mods, you will need to own a copy of Skyrim.

Skyrim Workshop Now Supports Paid Mods

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We’ve had a long and excellent relationship with our good friends at Valve. We worked together to make the Workshop a huge part of Skyrim, and we’re excited that something we’ve been working together on for a long time is finally happening. You can now charge for the mods you create.

Unlike other curated games on Steam that allow users to sell their creations, this will be the first game with an open market. It will not be curated by us or Valve. It was essential to us that our fans decide what they want to create, what they want to download, and what they want to charge.

Many of our fans have been modding our games since Morrowind, for over 10 years. They now have the opportunity to earn money doing what they love – and all fans have a new way to support their favorite mod authors. We’ve also updated Skyrim and the Creation Kit with new features to help support paid mods including the ability to upload master files, adding more categories and removing filesize limit restrictions.

What does this mean for you?

As a modder, you now have the option of listing your creations at a price determined by you. Or, you can continue to share your projects for free. For those shopping for new mods, Valve is making sure you can try any mod risk free.

For full details on these changes to the Skyrim Workshop, check out Steam’s announcement page and FAQ.

Modding has been important to all our games for such a long time. We try to create worlds that come alive and you can make your own, but it’s in modding where it truly does. Thanks again for all your incredible support over the years. We hope steps like this breathe new life into Skyrim for everyone.

Bethesda Game Studios

First Look: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s Perks & Achievements

MarkOne_v2_scrubbed_wLegalComing soon to a weapon wheel near you!

If you played through Wolfenstein: The New Order, you know that the game’s replayability is strengthened by the gameplay-based, goal-oriented perk system. The standalone Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (out on May 5 digitally, and physically in EU on May 15) shares this in common with last year’s release.

This week on our official Wolfenstein Facebook page, we’ll be previewing some of these perks, which also unlock achievements on Xbox One/Steam and trophies on PlayStation 4.

For a preview of how this system will work in The Old Blood, we’ll be sharing details on some of our favorites this week on the official Wolfenstein Facebook page. Here’s a sneak peek at today’s unveil of the “Can Carry Machine Guns” Perk:

“Can Carry Heavy Machine Gun” Perk

achievement_carry_mg46_240The Trophy You’ll Unlock

How to Get It:  Pull off 200 kills using MG46.

What It Does: You no longer need to leave heavy machine guns behind. Can carry a heavy machinegun in your inventory/weapon wheel.

Be sure to tune in every day this week on Facebook.com/Wolfenstein to see other new perks and Trophies/Achievements revealed.

Take Action with The Evil Within’s Newest DLC

But remember: every action has consequences!

Find out Juli Kidman’s fate in The Evil Within: The Consequence — available today across all the main game’s platforms for $9.99.

If you’ve played The Evil Within’s first DLC, you know Kidman is precariously stuck between completing her assignment from the Mystery Man of Mobius or staying loyal to Sebastian and Joseph. The Consequence picks up right where The Assignment left off and provides a balance of stealth-action and gunplay. That’s right – this time Juli’s packing heat.

Haven’t played The Assignment yet? Double dip on your Kidman quests by purchasing The Evil Within’s Season Pass for $19.99. The pass will give you access to both released DLCs, as well as the upcoming download, The Executioner.

Prepare yourself for these concluding chapters with our release day gameplay trailer embedded above. To keep up on the latest community news for The Evil Within, be sure to keep tabs on the game’s official Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

QuakeCon 2015 Shirt Design Contest — And then there were 4! (Updated)

CaptureUpdate: Due to technical issues, we’re pulling our voting process for the time being. Stay tuned for exciting updates.

The QuakeCon 2015 20th Anniversary Shirt Design Contest is down to the four finalists. To everyone that submitted their entries… thanks for participating!

Between now and April 26th, we encourage you to visit the contest page to vote for the finalists shown above. We’ll be announcing the final winner on or around April 29th!

Please view the updated contest rules here.

On the Eve of The Consequence

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If you haven’t been following our Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts for The Evil Within, you might have missed some of terrifying first-look screenshots and animated gifs for part two of Juli Kidman’s quest, The Consequence.

Because we’re more forgiving than Mobius, we’ve got some of the recent highlights — including last week’s TwitchWorks stream — available today on the eve of The Consequence’s release.


The Evil Within – The Consequence