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Steam Workshop lets game modders sell their work, starting with Skyrim

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Valve is taking another step in turning its Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace for people who make mods, maps, or in-game items. Today, it expanded the ways that creators can directly sell their work — and it's starting with one of the gaming world's most vibrant modding communities, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Valve and Skyrim developers Bethesda Game Studios first added support for Steam Workshop in 2012, but at that time, they could only be offered for free. Now, modders can set their own price when they upload an item.

Relatively few have taken advantage of this so far. Of over 25,000 mods, 19 are being sold for between $0.49 and $5.99. They include things like in-game weapons and spells, new locations, and a full-fledged companion character. In the past, though, the Steam Workshop has proved lucrative for at least a few users. Between its launch in late 2011 and the beginning of 2015, Valve only allowed people to sell items for its own games, like Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. In January, it estimated that 1,500 users had made a total of $57 million in these games over the previous three years.

Skyrim isn't quite the first non-Valve game to let players buy things through the Workshop. In January, a handful of games got "curated workshops" that allowed developers to take votes on items that they could then sell. The difference, according to Bethesda, is that Skyrim is the first open market, where modders themselves upload projects and set prices. It's not going to be the only one, though; Valve says support for paid mods in other games will be coming in the next few weeks.

As a bonus, Skyrim is free to play on Steam this weekend, so the biggest hurdle to checking it out is probably just figuring out the sheer number of ways you can change it, from improving your horse to starting a quest for Gordon Freeman's crowbar.