Free mods vs pay mods
There have been some recent rumblings surrounding the thought of whether paying for mods (add-ons) is a right way to go. To that end I would say it can be an alternative way to go but not the only one. It doesn’t have to mean the end of free modding as both free and pay mods can exist in parallel. There are some who will remain against the idea of receiving payment for their work and insist their work is down to their own passion for our hobby. A most noble gesture indeed.
But there are others who may think that all of their hard work requires some form of remuneration for all the hours they put in. Why should it all be expected or even demanded to be free ? Donation options on modding websites have been popular but that is not a sign they are fruitful or rewarding. I myself have experience of this from another website of mine that has had a donation option on it for many years now. In that time I have received one donation from a very kind individual who was grateful for what my website offered him.
Those that demand modding should remain free, what are we to make of this objection ? Are they spoiled in this internet age where you can just about download anything you want without having to pay for it ? Do they truly believe, as some say, that it will destroy or fracture the community, or are they just exercising a flair for the dramatic ?
The Flight Sim community has existed, and continues to do so, with free stuff and payware stuff. I suspect however that unlike with airline companies, motorsport companies will not turn such a blind eye to trademarks, copyrights and licences being infringed upon.
There are two ways I can see that you can offer your work as payware but both must have 1 strict set of rules. The first way is to sell your work on your own modding website if you have one. The second way is to do it through a mean whereby another website will manage this for you. Such a system is being proposed by MAK-Corp, a group who are already no stranger to controversy, so a system like this where opinion will be staunchly divided, makes them an easy target for the opposition.
Whichever way the modder decides to sell his wares, there must be a set of rules governing both if this is to be workable. The biggest rule is that the modder and/or mod management website must completely ensure that none of the content infringe and copyright, patent, trademark or licensing laws. This is paramount because failure to do this could have consequences that the sim-racingcommunity or the modder would not want to invite.
Lawsuits or at least cease and desist threats are a very likely scenario. Is modelling your car to look very similar and calling it a Ferarro enough ? I don’t know. These things need to be researched.
The advantage to paid mods is that one would naturally expect quality in return. But not because of the thought of “well I’m paying for it so it better be good”. More likely the author or group would know that it if isn’t decent quality, it won’t sell and all the hard work in order to attain some remuneration will be for nothing. So really the onus is on the mod maker to give the end user quality content or risk a low to no return.
The mods themselves must also be fairly priced because, lets face it, it is all too easy for one rogue buyer to put the mod somewhere for free for others to re-download without buying it. I think if the fees are reasonable and the quality is good, there may be less chance of this. But the mod maker must understand these risks before taking the plunge.
Will it divide or damage the community ? Well it will sure divide opinion but you always have the choice not to buy. Some will insist the mods should stay free and the modders are either not entitled to be paid for their work or should only do it for the passion and not the payment. Modders may see it from another side, that they put in a lot of their own free time and modding is likely to become more of a challenge if rfactor 2 is anything to go by, and maybe it is about time they were paid a little for the time they put in.
To that I say, fair enough. It is not unreasonable to want to be paid for work. It is how the world works after all so why should modders be any different.
Being paid for your work should encourage quality, may even encourage new modders or old ones to come out of the woodwork. There is a dip in mods these days and if the incentive of a financial return can help light that spark then I say go for it, but go for it by respecting all the legal sides. After all, fantasy cars will likely have authentic skins added on for free afterwards by some anonymous party, no doubt.