Last year Valve introduced paid mods on Steam when Bethesda allowed its fanbase to sell Skyrim mods. That experiment was short-lived, but Valve is having another crack at it, this time handling things itself through one of its first-party games, Dota 2.
Soon Dota 2 players can purchase what's called a Custom Game Pass, allowing premium access to user-made modes. As detailed on the Dota 2 blog, the premiere Custom Game Pass will only cost $1 and offers 30-day access to bonus goodies in Roshpit Champions, a co-op dungeon-crawling variant of Valve's MOBA.
It's worth noting that Roshpit Champions, like other Custom Games for Dota 2, is free-to-play. But purchasing the pass "will enable additional stash and character slots, and offer multiple perks for the duration of the pass."
"We wanted to create a method by which hard-working developers could be directly rewarded for their work while also encouraging the continued development of enduring custom games and vibrant communities," Valve explained inits FAQ.
Custom Game Pssses will not renew automatically. Valve explained that it wants developers to keep updating Custom Games and this timed service incentivises devs to continue giving back to the community.
"We want a system that encourages developers to work hard to continue to support their games, and for fans to be able to reward developers if they are happy with the work the developer is doing," Valve said. "For custom games to be successful in the long term, they will require ongoing updates from their creators, and a cheaper but limited activation period allows players to continually reassess their choice to support a game if they think it's going in the right direction."
One major difference between what Valve's doing with Dota 2 and what Bethesda tried with Skyrim is that Valve is offering Custom Game Developers the same cut of revenue as any other developer on Steam. We've heard that to be 70 per cent. Comparatively, Bethesda was only offering Skyrim modders 25 per cent.
Furthermore, Valve is going to be a lot more hands-on with this new market, as it's going to act as the gatekeeper for what Dota 2 Custom Games are allowed to sell passes.
"The process will be curated by the Dota team," Valve explained. "We will be carefully selecting which custom games are able to offer a Custom Game Pass, selecting only games which have already established a sizeable community and are mature enough to offer good value to customers. Ultimately, players will help determine which games are right for a pass by choosing to play and engage with growing communities, and the Dota team will continue to work with the custom game community to identify good candidates."
Valve is also offering 48-hour refunds on Custom Game Passes, should you try one out only to decide it doesn't offer enough bang for your buck.