The developers behind ARK: Survival Evolved have pledged to help mod developers complete their projects by funding them to the tune of up to $4,000 per month, enabling them to commit their time and resources, but is it sustainable?
The subject of compensation for mod authors recently resurfaced when Valve confirmed they still wanted to bring paid mods back to their Steam platform at some point in the future. This isn't quite exactly the same idea, though - even though the end mod will be free for users to download and use, the developer itself is going to financially support certain authors for their work directly.
Studio Wildcard have gained a reputation as of late for understanding well the added value that mods bring to their games, even including many modifications into the base game in updates. The game's lead programmer and designer, Jeremy Stieglitz, spoke to PC Gamer earlier this week about the new project, which will be fully unveiled at GDC this weekend.
Here's how the system works: each month, Studio Wildcard will select up to 15 mod developers to be included in the project, developing mods for ARK. Each modder will receive $1,000 per week for four weeks, after which they will be put through an evaluation process to decide if they will be able to continue being compensated for their work next month, after which they will continue to receive $1,000 per week for four weeks, and will then be re-evaluated. When a modder is dropped from the program, another author is selected at the start of the month to take their place.
Jeremy StieglitzIf we have to expand the program because the 15 mods are all doing so well that we don’t want to cut any of them, then we’ll expand the program to more mods every month. The hope is that with this kind of stipend… will let them spend more time on modding, and ideally, hopefully, take some of these mods to completion.
Developer Cedric Burkes, a member of the Studio Wildcard team, will be making decisions on a monthly basis as to which mod projects stay in the program into the next month, and which ones are dropped. Mods that are successfully completed under the program will potentially then be included into the base game. There is, however, talk of allowing community voting to play a factor in the future, meaning that players will get a say in which projects are funded and which are dropped.
We don’t expect anything of them after that, if they are no longer in the program, or if they quit, they have no obligation to us, it really is no strings attached. We’re not looking to run their lives or anything like that.
The best part is that mod authors are under no contractual obligation, and there's no pressure from the developers to produce results - which means it's a lot of money to throw after potentially non-existent projects. Given the no-obligation nature of the funding, I would imagine that the vetting system for which authors and projects are funded will be very carefully strictly considered.
ARK: Survival Evolved leaves Early Access to officially release for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later in 2017.
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