Valve and Bethesda recently enabled a new feature for Skyrim's lively Steam Workshop scene: support for paid mods. Less than a week later, the pair announced that they're ending support for the program and refunding all paid mod purchases made in that brief window.
Letting Skyrim modders charge for their efforts sounds harmless enough at the surface level. But revenue sharing concerns aside, Valve and Bethesda seemingly misjudged how a significant portion of the game's community would take to the concept: with uproarious aversion.
After several days of outcry, including an uncharacteristically critical Reddit ask-me-anything thread with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, Valve and Bethesda decided to drop paid mods entirely. Valve employee Alden Kroll explained the decision on a Steam Community post post:
"We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing," Kroll said. "We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different."
Bethesda posted an update saying much the same. Kroll observed that Skyrim was probably a poor place to start, as it already had a well-established modding community, but that Valve does "believe there's a useful feature somewhere here."
Useful or not, I wouldn't expect that "more of your favorite Workshop games will support paid content in the coming weeks," as Valve teased last week.