Image via Nexus Mods

Nexus Mods plans to roll out a new donation system and storefront early in 2018 according to a recent post in the site’s news section.

The fan site was founded in 2001 and now has over 10 million registered users. While it supports mods for hundreds of games some of the biggest include ones like The Witcher 3 and Skyrim (SkyUI, one of the mods for the latter which updates things like the menus and inventory system, has been downloaded over 16 million times).

“We are working on a Donation Points system on Nexus Mods that mod authors will be able to accumulate, through unique file page downloads, that can then be redeemed for rewards through a storefront style system,” says the announcement. It’s not intended to be enough for any modders to quit their day jobs but rather a way for their work to get rewarded in a small but tangible way with something in the range of a couple “free beers” worth a month.

Every month Nexus Mods will donate a base amount between $5,000 and $10,000 from the money the site generates in ad revenue and premium account subscriptions into a central mod fund. From there, the site plans to let users contribute additional money to it. Then at the end of each month, the total amount in the fund will be divided up transferred into the equivalent amount of “Donation Points” (1,000 per $1 donated the site speculates). Each modder will then get an amount of Donation Points equivalent to their proportion of the overall number unique downloads, similar to how Spotify pays musicians for each time one of their songs is streamed.

“For example, if the total donation money pool is $10,000 (which is 10,000,000 DP) and the total unique download count is 5,000,000 then that means each unique download would be worth 2 DP. Ergo, a mod author who receives 25,000 unique downloads that month will receive 50,000 DP, which is the equivalent of $50 to redeem in our redemption storefront.”

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The storefront will offer the option either to turn these points into cash (which will be paid out through PayPal or Amazon gift cards) or spend them on the things. Nexus Mods plans to sell not only popular games there but also modding software tools and even PC hardware like video cards and motherboards. It also mentions the possibility of having manufacturers like Corsair sponsor certain months, giving modders discounts on their merchandise during that time. And if they don’t want to buy stuff, modders will be able to donate their earnings to one of a small-selection of charities. Points won’t disappear month to month either but will carry over with $10 being the minimum amount to redeem them for cash. They can also transfer them to other modders if they wish. The entire thing will operate on a Net 90 system, an accounting term meaning the site reserves the right to wait up to three months before distributing points or the equivalent cash payments.

The program is optional and will only pay out to those modders who opt-in. The site also notes that when it comes to calculating unique downloads it will only use each unique user per mod page so as not to double count downloads by the same person on a mod page that has multiple files. They note this as one of the potentially “contentious” parts since popular mods that have already been downloaded a bunch won’t count retroactively and simply chalk it up to shortcomings in their stat tracking capabilities.

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While companies like Bethesda, who published Skyrim, haven’t given sites like Nexus Mods much trouble in the past it’s possible trying to monetize the whole affair, even through a donation program, could change that relationship. Despite all of this, Nexus Mods claims in its announcement that it doesn’t foresee any issues from a legal perspective and, if push comes to shove, will remove mods for any Bethesda-published games from the donation program.

“It would obviously result in a system that benefits far fewer mod authors on the site, but I’m not going to let Bethesda dictate functionality on the site that is about more than just their games now, and has been for many years,” Nexus Mods says.

Bethesda has tried to cultivate its own modding community around its games with a program called Creation Club. While it’s not quite a marketplace for paid mods (players can make and distribute them for free) certain high quality mods get development support from Bethesda and are priced. This has led many in the modding community to look at the program with skepticism.

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While the new Nexus changes are expected to roll out sometime in the winter of 2018, the site says players could see the first new features begin appearing as early as January.