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Is the era of mod support fading?

I recently got an itch to start modding games again, perhaps feeling nostalgic about college-years spent playing custom maps in Unreal and Quake. I am no wizard by any means, but the process of making my own content within a world I love and then being able to share it is a pretty special experience.

As I ran through some of my recent favorite games that claim to support player-created mods, I found myself disappointed:

  • The Master Chief Collection on PC: No planned support for level editors beyond the in-game Forge mode (at least that I could information on)
  • The Witcher 3: Mod support seems limited to cosmetic and UX changes rather than any kind of world-building
  • Vermintide 2: Like the Witcher 3, mod support seems limited to cosmetic and UX changes with no level editor planned for release

When I log into NexusMods, Skyrim is still at the top of the charts, which isn’t a surprise, but there aren’t any games in the top 10 that were released more recently than 2015. Monster Hunter World and Mount and Blade II are starting to catch up, but it doesn’t seem like their mod support tools are nearly as robust as what Skyrim made available.

Is my view into this corner of gaming too narrow, or does it seem like developers are less and less likely to make these tools available?

If my assessment is correct, here are some potential reasons why:

1. Game budgets continue to grow and the market is more competitive, so large studios are less inclined to invest development time into creating and supporting mod tools.

2. Bethesda’s paid mod fiasco confirmed an unspoken fear among developers: there is not a clear path to monetizing mod content. In an age of season-based DLC and free to play models, the revenue potential of an active mod community that actively resists monetization is less appealing than other approaches to extending the shelf-life of a game.

3. Player interest in mod tools and player-made content is declining. I have no data for this, but if studios are tracking that engagement in some way, it could be that mod support is declining because player interest is declining. Anecdotally, that would surprise me, but it is a possibility.

Is this something you’ve thought about? What are your thoughts? And if you have recommendations of recent games with great mod tools, I’d love to check them out!


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