Next week, Studio Wildcard will officially launch a new program for modders. Every month, 15 modders will receive a $4,000 stipend for their work.
Jeremy Stieglitz, Studio Wildcard’s lead designer, lead programmer and co-creative director on Ark: Survival Evolved, told PC Gamer that the program will select 15 modders and pay them a monthly stipend of $4,000. He said, “The hope is that with this kind of stipend, these authors, who really are hobbyists and have day jobs so they can’t really afford to spend as much time as they’d like on modding, that this will let them spend more time on modding, and ideally, hopefully, take some of these mods to completion.”
This isn’t the first time studios have attempted to find a way to compensate modders for their work. In 2015, Valve and Bethesda launched a paid mods program for Skyrim, where mods would be available for purchase. That program ended after less than a week, with Valve employee Aldon Kroll saying, “We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. … But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating.”
One of the problems cited during the brief window of time that Skyrim’s paid mods were available were that mods were available for sale that reused assets from other modders. This is a shitty thing to do when mods are free, but when money enters the equation it gets dicier. When asked about the potentiality for those kinds of headaches, Stieglitz said, “if there’s some dispute, technically it’s up to the modder to deal with that, at that point.”
Ark: Survival Evolved will receive an update next week after Studio Wildcard officially announces the program at GDC. This update will introduce a new menu with all 15 featured mods, allowing players to browse and download them. Check out the list of mods and the rest of the conversation with Jeremy Stieglitz over at PC Gamer.