Studio Wildcard, developer of the hit Early Access dino-survival game ARK: Survival Evolved, has decided to pay some of its ARK modders. Studio Wildcard won’t be allowing modders to sell their work on Steam, but instead will be paying them directly on a monthly basis.
Not Every Mod Gets The Special Treatment
ARK’s lead designer and co-creator, Jeremy Stieglitz, explained how their new sponsored mod program will work. “Each month, Studio Wildcard will select 15 modders and pay them each a stipend of $4,000 to work on their mods. Each month, the mods will be evaluated and it will be determined if those modders will continue to be paid for the next month, or if a mod will be dropped from the program and a new one added.” Stieglitz did say that they may increase the number of sponsored mods per month if things go well.
Cedric Burkes, employee at Studio Wildcard and creator of the popular Primitive Plus mod, will be the one to decide which mods are worth sponsoring and which will be dropped if development or popularity subsides.
“Once we get this kind of process going, we’re almost certainly going to work out a community-driven aspect to is it as well,” said Stieglitz, “where the community maybe even ultimately can vote, along with some discretion, maybe, on Cedric’s part on who goes into that voting pool.” – Jeremy Stieglitz.
Complications & Considerations
There are always going to be issues when it comes to paying a secondary party, especially through sponsorship. Most modders work in teams or collaborate online on a project, never actually meeting one another in person. They sometimes borrow models, skins, textures and codes from each other. Using sections of other people’s work is normally okay within the modding community. However, when money is brought into the picture, things get a little tricky. Conflict between modders appears and accusations run rampant. If a mod, who has borrowed from other projects, becomes sponsored, are they really entitled to the money and sponsorship? The previous mods they have taken from will end up being unfairly treated and lose out massively in comparison.
Here is a recent example of a paid mod program on Steam gone wrong: “Two Ark modders clashed over the Pokémon mods they were each developing, leading to one of them filing a DMCA notice against the other.” The modder had started using animations from another mod without permission and selling their product. The mod had to be removed from the program as a result. The real difficulty is making sure a modders work is truly their own.
Another problem worth considering is what happens to the sponsored mods who lose their monthly sponsorship? Games likes ARK: Survival Evolved, are regularly updated and receive patches with new content, features and optimisation improvements. How does Studio Wildcard intend to retain a sponsored mod’s compatibility when ARK is updated and the mod is no longer a part of the monthly payment program. Stieglitz had this to say:
“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,” said Stieglitz. “But we do have an insurance policy.” – Jeremy Stieglitz.
The policy demands that any modder entering the sponsor mod program must upload their source assets to the ARK devs. So if a mod needs to be updated in the future to run on later versions of ARK, it can be tweaked and changed by the developers at Studio Wildcard. If the modder is unable to, or doesn’t want to update the mod, Wildcard has it covered.
Studio Wildcard’s official announcement for the sponsored program will take place later this week at GDC. With this announcement will come a small update for ARK, adding an in-game menu showing the current month’s sponsored projects.
Here are the first 15 selected mods:
NPC Bush People by Swords
Scorched Earth Decor, RP Decor, eco In Wonderland, and ecoTrees by eco
Ragnarok by Excited Kangaroo
Structures Plus, Platforms Anywhere, Platforms Plus by orionsun
Steampunk Mod by iSpeZz
Roraima by Jeff
Castles, Keeps, and Forts Architecture by enc | ExileAcid
Survival Plus by Tao
Ark Moon Survival by DavidBC
Shigo Islands by ExilogUploader
Madagascar Evolved by Hey my team rules!
Thieves Island and Skies of Nazca by Tkat5200
MRRadTools.Inc by MRRadioactiv
Ark Postal Service and Offline Raid Protection by jslay
Advanced Admin Command Menu by Woeful Macabre