I’d like to start a discussion with regards to how or even if mods created for Stonehearth can be monetized? What this means is that if somebody puts in a whole bunch of effort to create a mod, they can get a few bucks back for their effort. The idea here is that mod developers might have a little bit of an incentive to either developer or at least fix bugs and maintain their mods if they are earning a few bucks along the way.
This can be either just some “pizza money” (aka enough to afford an extra pizza or to dump some money into another Kickstarter project) all the way to perhaps a mod developer “quitting their day job” and making it a full time job. Assuming that this game is successful enough, it is possible for literally millions of players to be participating… and certainly a few cents from a good portion of each of those players can add up to a pretty good pile of money.
I want to emphasize that there will be people making money off of the game anyway other than Radient… unless Tom and Tony want to squash this flat right now. An example of this is YouTube game playthrough players… some of which I know are playing games like Minecraft and SimCity, posting them as videos, and literally earning a full-time income doing just that. Others will likely be offering hosting services for the multi-player servers (an already announced feature), and Curse is definitely going to be making money off of the wiki. Mod developers are definitely going to be adding value to the game… especially some of the better mods, so what might be justification for keeping them from getting a cut of the money that other people are definitely going to be earning off of their work?
I know there is a certain hacker ethos that is strongly against monetizing mods, and I don’t want to shut you out of this conversation either. I am also not against mods that are released with free software/open source licenses like the GPL or CC-by-SA suite. Those have their place and undoubtedly will be developed for Stonehearth and I think should be encouraged as well. There still might be some expenses for hosting the mod content, and the need for things like a wiki or discussion forum for the mod development group if it is larger and more complicated mod (as exists for some Minecraft mods… to give an example). Regardless, there will be “free” mods in various flavors and monetizing mods should be optional for the mod developer in all circumstances. If a developer wants to give it away, nothing should stop them.
Ways of monetizing a mod generally come in these flavors:
Tip Jar - Basically it is a way to ask for donations to the developers, if you think it is a good idea. While not a bad idea, and certainly many projects do collect some money from donations to deal with necessary expenses, it seems to do poorly with mod developers in general. Comment to this thread if you have any experience (good or bad) about tip jars on projects you have been involved with or that you have been a major fan (aka followed the mod developer for more than six months or so and have seen how donations have or have not come into the project).
Banner advertisements - This can range from setting up your own web page with Google ads or some other advertisement service all of the way to sites like AdFly, where you can post links in forum posts and get a couple of cents off of each click when people try to download your mod content. This is an issue for the people running the forum where the links are being used… as some forum operators may not like those kind of links and others don’t mind. I really don’t know how Radient feels about this right now… especially on this Discourse forum even though such links can be used right now. Banner ads do work and can earn some money (I’ve done it for Minecraft mods and earned pizza money amounts), and for the most part players don’t really object too strongly to stomach some advertising in exchange for a quality mod.
If you can’t stomach AdFly, it might be fun to try and set up a similar service for Stonehearth players that could include banner ads for servers or other services related to the game. A warning on that though as I’ve seen people try to do that and fail miserably.
Mod Store - This would likely be the most controversial approach as you would directly need to pay for the mod in a fashion similar to the Apple App Store. A variety of payment systems could be employed, and the amount of money a player would need to pay could still be minimal (just a few cents to a couple of bucks) for a mod, but it would be perhaps the most reliable kind of income for a mod developer. This could be done independently with a 3rd party running the “exchange”, or be done by Radient directly with Radient taking a small cut of the money (between 5% to 50%) being paid for the mod. If it was integrated directly into the game through a menu of some sort, even people who wouldn’t frequent the forums might be inclined to download the mods. Included with the listing of mods could include links to forum posts about the mod and reviews of that mod to help you decide if they are something worth getting or to avoid malware.
I should point out that a “mod store” might still be a useful idea even without monetization. You could still have “free” mods in such a mod store where developers don’t want anything in return… listed adjacent to mods charging money.
If there are any other ideas on how to promote and provide incentives for mod developers to keep doing their work, I’d like to hear them as well. Money speaks quite well as an incentive and at least it gives you an indication your work means something to other people.