May 18 • 41M

Podcast: Mod.io's Scott Reismanis on the impact of UGC in games

How user-generated content is a big thing - and may get way larger.

 
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Welcome to the fourth Tales From GameDiscoveryLand podcast in Season 1. In this episode - recorded a few weeks back - we talk to Scott Reismanis, founder of platform-agnostic game mod host/platform Mod.io about the evolution of UGC (user-generated content), the impact of this content in games, and the future of the space.

Presented by Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, this bi-weekly, limited series podcast features conversations with smart people in the video game industry on how games get discovered and played. Below is a lightly edited full transcript of the entire podcast.

Reminder: you can get hold of episodes via our official podcast page, and also via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Pocket Casts. If you need it, here’s our podcast RSS feed. And thanks in advance for listening.

Podcast transcript: Scott Reismanis and Mod.io

Simon: Have you heard all the fuss about user-generated content for games in recent years? If your game supports UGC or mods, it can significantly boost its virality and discovery. Which is why we were so excited to catch up with Mod.io founder Scott Reismanis for our latest podcast. 

Scott was also the founder of ModDB and IndieDB, and has been involved in the mod scene for more than 20 years. His new VC-backed company, which helps run cross-platform mods for games like Snowrunner, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, Deep Rock Galactic & Skater XL - is doing some interesting work to make mods available multi-platform. 

So let's hear all about the benefits and pitfalls of making modding a discovery engine for your games. I'm Simon Carless, founder of GameDiscoverCo, and this is the Tales From Game Discoveryland podcast. 

[music]

Simon: Okay, so I'm here with Scott - How's it going, Scott? Are you having a good day?

Scott: It’s going well, thank you. Just wrapped up a successful trip to GDC, and it's great to be talking today.

Simon: Awesome - we've certainly known each other for a while. We did some work together back in the day on things like the Indie Royale bundles but obviously I'm very interested to hear about your latest project Mod.io. 

I was looking at the progression, and you noted on your blog that you had 12 million mods downloaded in 2019, 70 million in 2020, and 208 million in 2021. So clearly, the service - which provides mod support and a kind of centralized [hub] for a bunch of different games - is going quite well.

Can you talk about what particular games your growth has been led by? I'm interested to hear like the three or four games that you feel that people are really, really getting going on Mod.io.

Scott: So Mod.io and modding in general has typically spanned many genres of games, whether it's open world RPGs, like your Skyrims and your Cyberpunks, through to simulation games - we always said if it has a bus, trains, cars or planes in it, it's suitable. Right through to the multiplayer first person shooters and competitive games - where just customizing your avatar or changing the level can have a big impact on gameplay. 

For us, our growth has been driven by, probably, all of those genres. But in particular simulation titles, for whatever reason. We've got a lot of truck and bus and car related games on the service. And they're just extremely popular with the players because once you've tried the 5 to 10 vehicles available to you, naturally you want something that's faster, bigger and got more wheels - whatever it might be.

So they've really driven it . But it's definitely a diverse bunch, because we've got games like Totally Accurate Battle Simulator that kind of break the mold. It’s in physics simulators that people are dropping-in characters, and they've submitted 1.5 million pieces of content - and driven a lot of downloads.

Simon: Can you talk about the broad type of mods that you're seeing? I think people have different opinions of mods based on what they think ‘mods’ means - and it's everything from cosmetics to kind of total conversions. Can you talk about the different classes of mod that you often see?

Scott: The lines have really been blurred the last few years. Historically, when I got started in modding with ModDB back in 2002, mods were all total conversions. There really was no such thing as cosmetic mods back then. And so that's where you got your Counter-Strikes & your DOTAs. That type of content emerged from that scene, because the only way to really ship a game as a amateur or indie developer was to modify existing titles and create something new out of it. 

Fast forward to the last… 10 years. Modding's become, I would say, much more accessible, somewhat more cosmetic. And that's been driven by a few factors. The first has been that digital distribution makes these smaller mods easily accessible for players.

Jumping through hoops to download Counter-Strike was something that players did and justified. But jumping through hoops just to download a new skin for your character didn't necessarily make as much sense. So the rise of [Steam] Workshop made [that content] available to the players at the press of a button - which we're also doing a Mod.io.

That has really opened up the door to sort of cosmetic and sort of more simplified mod types - and people often call them UGCs [User Generated Content]. For us, it's all the same, whether that content is drag and drop in-game and UGC and something that's made just through a few clicks of the mouse. Or it’s content [that’s] made in a level editor, or requires 3D modeling knowledge and skills….

The games that generally perform the best… recognize that too. And they try to make modding approachable, but also allow for a really deep dynamic range of creation. So if you want to go deep and really want to go advanced, that's available to you today. It's a bit of a mixed bag - and there’s just so much more content that players can make, and games can enable them to make.

Simon: Yeah, I was looking at some of your top titles. And I did notice they had total conversions in them, but they also had skins as well. So I could see that there was quite a lot of difference there. The popularity of mods depends on how [devs] display it [in-game] and how integral it is to gameplay. Do you think there's just some types of games where mods are more integral to gameplay than others? 

Scott: There definitely is. We generally say that games that have a very strong story-line or narrative or very strong art style, it's difficult to work mods into that. Because first, the mod creators are going to impact that stylized approach that you've created for your title.

Whereas games that are multiplayer - naturally, people really want to try new levels. Once you've played the first five gameplay modes in the game, you want new levels for it, that you can experience multiplayer on. Or you want cosmetic skins, new weapons and items in the world.

That's what allows you to personalize your player experience and… stand out relative to other players. So that genre really goes well. And then it's the really open-world RPG or simulation games that also skew in a single player direction where people want to change a skybox. They want to make new graphics and HD pack updates or just change the objects in the world. It's definitely more imagination driven creation. And because the scope is so large at those games, mods tend to lend themselves really well to it.

Simon: I was quite impressed with the range of titles you've got on there. I guess one question I had is: how much maintenance is there in order to set this up [as a developer]? Obviously, one thing devs are always thinking about is “How complicated is this going to be?” Maybe you can talk about the most complicated that you've seen and the least complicated. 

Scott: There's a few things that you need to consider here from the perspective of a game developer. One is the actual implementation of mod support (ie: what content are you going to allow your players to create in your game?) And so for some titles, that might mean they're just sharing save files and it's just drag and drop gameplay.

And then whatever they remix and create, they save and… submit and share as a piece of content. So that's sort of more like your Space Engineers and your Totally Accurate Battle Simulator type titles where the game is almost the creation.

You build your own spaceship, you share it - Besiege is in the same [category], where you build your own machine and you share it. Or TABS, where build your own little characters in the character editor and share it. In those titles, the focus for the studio is how they build those editors and make them work. Because it's core of the gameplay there's a lot of effort that has gone into that. 

Then you have the opposite end of the spectrum. And that's sort of more like your Insurgency or Snowrunner that we've worked with. The creation happens outside of the gaming experience, and as a result of that the knowledge and skills that the creators require is a lot different. 

In the case of Snowrunner, I think there's like a 40 to 50 page PDF document on how to make levels and vehicles. That’s what the community started with, a deeply technical guide that involves a lot of different skill sets. And at first glance for someone, it is daunting - there's a lot to it. And yet there's been, I think at this point, over 1500 vehicles submitted. So that's a classic example of ‘never underestimate the power and talent and the resourcefulness of your creative community’, because with very little they can figure out a lot. 

In some ways, that actually leads to the most emergent and interesting creations. Because you've given them that scope and that flexibility. You haven't necessarily defined what they can and can't do. And they'll figure out ways to push boundaries and do really interesting things. So that definition is really up to the game studio to decide and then to put that policy into motion.

But the advice that I always like to provide is - never underestimate what your creative community can do. Because if developers could figure out how to reverse engineer Grand Theft Auto to add multiplayer mode, or Euro Truck Simulator to add multiplayer mode - that's pretty complicated tasks that they've done. Chances are they can probably mod your game, if you give them the opportunity too.

The second part of this question is - how do you solve the distribution piece and making that content accessible? And that's sort of where we come in as a service at Mod.io. We provide plugins for Unity and Unreal, and an SDK for other engines.

Our goal is always to lower the barriers to entry to support custom content, not just on PC, but also on consoles - by having those tools be as drop-in a solution as they can be, complete with UIs and everything. Our goal over a longer period of time? The [phrase] that we like to use internally is: “We want to help mods feel official - feel legitimate, like they're part of the game.”

[Mods are then] a first class citizen, and the level of polish and presentation and accessibility for players of all types is scaled up. So, every design decision that we make… is taking one more step in that direction. And I'd say that we're certainly not entirely there yet. But we're getting close with every iteration and every learning and lesson that we take from developers. And we've had studios that have got up and running ‘start to finish’, with debugging in less than a week. We've had one studio do it during a game jam in 48 hours in Unity. So it's possible, but there is lift.

Simon: In terms of the tools you provide and your competitors - Steam’s Workshop is the most obvious one that comes to mind for me. But I wondered… can you explain maybe, who you think your competitors are, and how they do things differently?

Scott: Yeah, so there's a number of different ways that modding is supporting games. There's the unofficial communities that have always existed - so that's your ModDB, which is something that I started 20 years ago. There's NexusMods, which got started around a similar time-frame. And then there's a number of other communities like that.

Essentially, that's what gets used when the game studio doesn't provide any official support, but there's players still modifying the game. So they find and set up a community where they can share - and other players can find and download - that content. 

So that's… where modding has sort of come from. There's a few hoops that players have to jump through: to exit the game, and then download and install that content manually, or with the assistance of a launcher installer. When modding then moved from this and Steam took it to with their Workshop solution is an SDK that game developers can integrate. 

So this is probably the primary competition for us, in that Steam provides a tool that automates that installation. And developers just have to do the plumbing and connecting of the SteamWorks Workshop SDK. Mod.io is the same. So the plumbing is very similar and the outcome is also identical. Players can now access mods in game via the in-game menu, they can browse content, they can click subscribe and then the SDK behind the scenes automatically puts that mod in the folder for the game to detect and run. 

Where Mod.io diverges from [Steam] Workshop is that we're pushing cross-platform and we really want to enable mods beyond just PC on mobile, VR, and console devices. We've seen great numbers - it’s still a very new area of gaming. As well as allowing studios to set up their own communities, get close with their players and their creators. They can identify the type of content that their consumers want through that interaction that they now have sort of ‘control’ over - and also really building their brand.

So there's like three or four levels that we differ that are quite important for us, and for studios that want to do more with modding. Other than that, Overwolf’s looking to do that - and they’re still buiding that product. You also have sort of cloud-like services like Accelbyte, and PlayFab from Microsoft that do… very rudimentary UGC frameworks. So you can kind of get the plumbing in. But you’ve still got to build the house, and the community and all the interfaces on top of it. 

I think this is an area within gaming that's obviously the biggest focus. We've obviously all seen the metaverse’s emergence. And whilst that's not exactly what we're trying to do, the success of Roblox and other titles kind of validated [that] this is an important area within gaming.

Almost every title is trying to work on their player engagement and then their content strategies. It's very likely that there's going to be a lot more ways to approach this problem in the future… that we haven't even considered yet.

Simon: It's interesting you mentioned console, because I think I saw somewhere in your materials that more than half of your downloads are on console, looking at individual mod items.

That's something that people don't always think about - because they think about PC as the main modding area. I'm presuming, in some cases, these mods are like vehicles or maybe [vehicle] designs for games rather than total conversions. But… how extreme does the console modding go? Obviously, you can't just do arbitrary geometry into a Xbox version that works on PC, right?

Scott: Yeah, there's certainly different rules that apply to the console platforms, and every platform applies its own rules. We exist to demystify that and make it easy for studios to tackle. And as a result of that you get different outcomes. What we've noticed was then on PC, probably 1 out of every 100 games do any kind of modding and you can see it.

So it's still early days for modding on PC. But at the same time, it's something that players have grown up with, and been used to - and had exposure to over a long period of time. If you look at consoles on the other hand, you could literally count on one hand the number of games that provide this functionality to their players. And it's been your really big titles. 

So it's just Skyrim - that’s got cross-platform mod support - Minecraft, your Robloxes and Microsoft Flight Simulators. So there's only really a very small pocket of games that have it. We help titles like Snowrunner, and also TABS, and also Space Engineers and Skater XL and others launch on PlayStation, Xbox and beyond.

Being such a unique selling point and so early to market with this functionality, the consumer response was really quite insane. The number of downloads and content consumption of those players was… up to five times their PC counterparts. 

Now, I think it's because it's such a unique feature. It's such a unique feature for subscription services like GamePass - it's a really good way to retain players in those titles, and retain subscribers without necessarily having to ship more content. Ultimately, I think just the players were super responsive to it. 

Also, some of the rules that the console systems apply actually appeared to be almost beneficial. On PC, in some of those titles, they allow all mods. So any mod that gets submitted is instantly available for all players. On consoles, they curate every week or month or whatever cadence the studio wants to curate, on to those platforms.

As a result of that curation, where they validate that the mods work and then approve them for the console device - it almost becomes an event that players look forward to. They know that every week, Snowrunner has its mod drop on Xbox and PlayStation. We get to see the new 10 mods that are coming to those devices.

So it becomes almost like a season pass… happening weekly, just due to the quality and quantity of content that's been made by the players. That then drives a lot of engagement for that game. So I think there's a number of factors that are contributing to the numbers that we're seeing. But it’s certainly very validating for us and exciting for the studios that have done it.

Simon: Great! So I guess I did have a question about mobile. I did notice that more mobile games in recent months are talking about mods - or at least unique content. I saw that SuperCell has set up a platform called MAKE where they're trying to get people to make more skins for their games. Have you got very far into the mobile space yet? What are your thoughts on how that's going to go?

Scott: Modding has historically been a PC Western game phenomenon. And its penetration into mobile markets, free to play markets, Eastern markets hasn't really happened yet. So for us, that's a really exciting opportunity and change that we see coming.

There's not a mobile studio that we can talk to, that isn't thinking about this in some form or another. And they’re considering their strategy and approach to this. From my perspective, there's a few things that I don't think studios are always aware of.

Content creation doesn't have to happen on the device of consumption. If you've got a passionate player base, modding is a multiplier of success. And so there'll be a percentage of your users that see themselves more as creators than they do as consumers. When you enable this functionality, they'll figure out whatever you offer to do it.

So in the SuperCell case, with their MAKE program, people aren’t making those characters in the game. They're using 3D editing software on PC, and then SuperCell curates the best content officially into the next release of the title.

So I think we're going to see over the next few years, a massive rise in user generated content on mobile. Those games build entire business models around content and player engagement. And there's no better way to engage players and build a flywheel that can continue to grow and sort of be self-fulfilling than user generated content. 

So… it makes a lot of sense. It's just that it is complex. There's a lot more to consider. There's a lot more restrictions on those devices, and things that you've got to do to implement it. So from our perspective, we've still been focused on that traditional gamer and that core gamer…. so we don't officially have our [mobile] modding solution set up.

However, our platform is agnostic. There's absolutely no restrictions on how studios use it. So we've already seen a few smart titles that are on iOS and Android that have adapted our technology to work on those devices. And they've got content flowing through them, and being available to the players.

So we think that this is an area where the industry 's going to grow enormously. Because from my perspective, mobile is so much different from PC - where if you ship a successful game, there's probably 30 clones of it on the App Store within two months.

Like, it's incredible how quickly the industry responds to it. And so I often wonder, what happens if someone ships like a Match 3 builder on iOS, and then the players could come up with their own themes.

So then they would have made the candy, the lemonade, the chocolates, goats, whatever it might be. And they'll come up with all their own themes, animations, different gameplay modes, different progression systems. And maybe [the game] could have maybe created a lot less churn for themselves, and a lot less of this copycat phenomenon that happens. 

It's pure speculation… but I often wonder what would have occurred if that had been the case? Because that's a really simple game that people would say is not suitable for modeling at all. Like, why would you want a match three game, right? The gameplay is so simple. And I'll say no. I actually think that application does make a lot of sense.

So yeah, it's an interesting area of the market. It’s still extraordinarily early, and I think it'll be several years before we start to see much movement. But there will be a lot of movement once it starts.

Simon: Talking of mobile reminded me of micro-transactions - which reminded me to ask you how you think this all works with monetization. Because clearly some [developers] are monetizing via cosmetics, and mods are sometimes cosmetics. What do you say to people who've talked to you about that?

Scott: I suppose we… point to Roblox as an example of how it can be done well, Roblox launched their Developer Exchange [in 2013], and that's the point at which creators could actually earn on the platform. And growth really kicked off for them every year subsequently.

And also what happened every year subsequently is their in-house content production, like the official content that the creators were making, became less and les. To the point where I think at the end of last year, they said that they do no in-house content production - it's entirely done by their players now. 

I would like to believe that we'll see similar trends in gaming once this becomes player accepted, and it's done in the right way. And if it also becomes accessible for studios to implement.

What they'll realize - and we've talked to a lot of studios about this, and we've looked at our own metrics: the amount of content that can emerge from your creative community is upwards of 5 to 10 times what you can produce in house through your content production team. And the quality - depending on the tools you provide, the assistance you provide and especially if there is a monetary incentive, definitely trends towards matching or even exceeding what you could create in-house.

And the originality always exceeds, because modders are going to try to fill out niches and address weird and wonderful things for the game you may not have considered or thought of.

I believe that any game that approaches UGC monetization in the right way? It's not going to be an immediate impact for them. But over time, that content if presented right, if given the legitimacy and curation that it deserves, will add to the bottom line for that studio, and slowly start to displace the need and demand for in-house content.

To the point now where they can run almost user-generated content season passes, user generated content daily drops - whatever their monetization strategy is, they can start to apply those concepts, but with the creations from their community. And really, I think the reason why this hasn't occurred more, and Roblox is more of an outlier than the norm is because it's just a long way outside of what studios are comfortable, and good at doing. 

[Roblox] are great at… building the infrastructure and the systems to do reporting, compliance tax and all of that on a global scale. And package it all up with community moderation, safety and everything else. That's a huge undertaking, and none of that is game development work…

Simon: And it's been a little controversial sometimes, if you've already had a modding scene out there to try and turn it paid, right? Because there were some issues where, I think, Skyrim tried to introduce paid modding and didn't go so well, if I recall?

Scott: That's correct. That's why I really emphasize there's ways for studios to do this the right way, and there's ways to do it that's the wrong way. And for us, we see it as something that should be complementary and strengthen the player experience and not necessarily change the rules on the players.

In the case of Skyrim, that's sort of unfortunately what happened, where I would say that's a community that absolutely loves content for that game. But suddenly having it all be monetized meant that there were certain conflicts… that arose. Had that not been the case and had this been something from Day One in that title, I think we would have seen a vastly different outcome. Or had it been approached in a… slightly different way, there would have been a different outcome too. 

I tip my hat to them trying, and I think it's sort of the right step. But there's just probably a few more steps that need to be taken first, and a few more rules that probably needed to exist for it to happen.

But Game Pass and other subscription services are pushing access to tons of players and different business models. I think it makes too much sense for a lot of studios to ignore. And now's the time that players need to be educated and shown that user generated content and monetization can be a really positive thing, in terms of the quality and range of content that can be created as that scales up.

Simon: In some ways this is quite a different view for a core developer, though. Because as you explained it, the extreme version is Roblox. And essentially Roblox is now a platform - it’s creative, but it is enabling creativity entirely in its user base.

And for many developers, I think, that's quite surprising, because they're used to the concept that they're the font of creativity for games. So how do you think people reconcile this? Do you speak to people who are a little nervous about giving away control over creativity?

Scott: Most people are nervous, especially if their business model is already content driven. And also if they're used to having complete and utter control over their game and its direction. The notion of letting go of that is a really big step.

History, I would say, has almost always shown that your players are going to do interesting things. They're also going to very occasionally do things that you won't want. or doesn't align with your values or qualities that you set for yourself in the studio. So really, you've just got to decide how you want to approach and handle and manage that. 

There's like five or six techniques that we use at Mod.io to help address this and provide studios comfort - whether it's:

  • great discoverability tools that automatically surface the good content, reinforce good behavior and bury the bad.

  • 24/7 community-based reporting and action systems that allow the community to control that.

  • complete moderation, where you are in control of what is shown and available for your consumers at all times.

So there's a lot of different ways you can address that to provide comfort and to ensure your strategy aligns. And there's a number of projects that we're working on in Mod.io in 2022 and beyond that will further reinforce that. We want to help studios set up a really close dialogue with their creative community, so they can guide and assist in the direction that creators take their game - by running events and other mechanisms to sort of drive that. 

I think it all comes down to your strategy - and every game’s strategy should be slightly different. We're happy to advise and provide our feedback on how we would approach modeling in a particular title, for studios to take on board.

Simon: In a related kind of area - how do you think companies think about legal liability? I've noticed that Roblox has a lot of arguably IP infringing stuff on it. And I think their [view] is generally to use more of a DMCA-like approach - ‘If anyone contacts us, we'll take it off’. But obviously very large companies don't tend to work like that. Do you think that's one reason why some of the largest companies have been more nervous about mods than they perhaps should have been?

Scott: I would argue that Roblox is a very large company, it was a $40 billion plus market cap when they IPO-ed, they're one of the biggest in the business. But yeah, DMCA, and the ability for community to report content is the most important tool available to us. Tthat's what the legal frameworks have sort of set, and become industry norm across all systems. And so having a very rigid process in place that allows users in-game - and via the web - to report content for IP and other reasons. 

Those reports then go into a dashboard, and that dashboard is then actioned within a certain timeframe by either the studio or us. They are the steps that must be followed to ensure compliance…. That’s the way that it's done on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and any other UGC platform that allows people to submit content that they've created themselves… We're no different, and it does work quite well. 

In terms of giving studios comfort, ultimately, I think that comes back to what I said previously about providing different mechanisms and ways… to approach their strategy for content in their game. Most do that reporting flow, and it works really well and they just allow all content.

But there is the option for full curation if they want it - and then they can be in complete control of that. They can also release more simplified creation tools that don't allow people to bring outside assets into their game… so the ability to do it is further reduced. So there's a lot of different ways. 

Ultimately, I think the upside is that the creativity, player engagement and growth that modding drives for these titles will ultimately always outweigh the few bad actors that can be quite easily managed out of the system.

And so I think Roblox is the perfect demonstration where if they came from that mindset of worry, they would have never achieved the scale that they did. So you've got to put a new hat when you're approaching UGC and see this as an opportunity to do something bigger than you presently are - and then just decide what is your strategy for management?

Simon: Yeah, I definitely agree with your point. Roblox is a very large, very high market cap company. I guess they're not a very old company… if you have vintage lawyers in the building, they'll be like “you're doing WHAT?” Whereas I think if you've come from a YouTube generation, you're much more used to it. So I think that makes a lot of sense. 

And I wanted to ask about monetization from a different point of view - which is [Mod.io’s] monetization. I know obviously you are venture funded right now, and you're just sort of scaling up. So I just wanted to ask: what is your kind of short, medium and long term business model for Mod.io?

Scott: Right now, we're going through a market education phase with UGC where, following Roblox’s success, there's probably not many studios that didn't have a look at UGC and what it can mean for their current type of games. And potentially building towards next generation of games - building it as a first class citizen and an early feature in those titles. 

So we’re VC backed - we’ve got great backers and a really long roadmap that we intend to deliver. Because we understand that there's there's going to be a phase of market education. We're not necessarily in a rush to make some of the mistakes that we've seen in the past [such as] the Skyrim example.

And so we want to ensure that we have the capital necessary to deliver on our vision, which is to make the UGC much more ubiquitous across the industry, much more accepted, and a business model and a revenue generator that studios can approach and pursue - should they choose to do so. 

So for us, phase one [is] market education. And that's focused across innovation and just good delivery and building a relationship with the players, the creators in the studios. And establishing ourselves as the thought leaders in the spaces. And as a result of that, for indie titles and smaller titles - Mod.io is an entirely free platform for you to use.

For larger titles and triple A titles, especially ones that want custom branding and a more ‘white label’ experience where it's integrated with their community and their single sign-on provider, we charge a nominal fee per piece of content downloaded. They can easily measure and track for usage of the service.

But ultimately, we want to be a revenue generator and a revenue positive venture for studios that want to do that. And we do acknowledge that not every studio wants to turn on revenue with mods, and they just want to leave it open. But we will provide the functionality and a fully managed solution so studios can use us to deploy ‘Roblox as a service’ in their game, where they can explore various monetization mechanisms.

[So] step one might be just as simple as the Twitch model, where it's patronage and it's just backing creators. Step two might be allowing a curated marketplace of your top [user-generated] content, almost like season passes… and then step three might be a full marketplace and a much more open system. 

That's going to happen over a number of years. And so every conversation we have with Studios is different based on their needs and the direction that they're taking. And that's why the VC funded route is the right one for us.

Simon: Yeah - and I'm glad to hear that you're providing for a multitude of different options there. Because I do think there's some people who just want their mods to be free. But there's also going to be some people in the future, I'm sure, who think: “Well, someone spent a really long time on this mod, it would be nice for them to get tips or some kind of payments”. I think I get it there.

Scott: Bulk of games, I would say definitely do just want mods to be a free feature for their players that they love, and they just want that. But there's certainly also a pocket of games that their business model is shifting - and they think that it'll lead to more content for their players and better, more diverse content.

They really want to enable it and they want to explore the different ideas. And that's why we're taking this stepped approach and we're going to provide optionality and package that up.

Simon: And I think also with the Game Pass on the rise, you know - it's getting much easier to get your game into a wider audience with Game Pass. But then you do have the worry, you know - are you generating any additional revenue?

Is just the Game Pass inclusion fee going to be enough? And that's why people are looking at being slightly more aggressive there. But I also share your feeling that it's really nice to have free mods from the community, and it's nice to have other options as well. It shouldn't be one thing or the other.

So I guess we're coming towards the end here. But I just had a final question for you, which I'm asking all of our guests, which is: you don't have a lot of time to play games but - have you been playing any games in the recent or semi-recent past? And if so, which ones have you been playing?

Scott: So believe it or not, I play an enormous amount of board games. I think through the pandemic, the ability to have a really social gaming experience has been really close to my heart. And there's no more social experience than board games, because by their nature, they're sort of slower and you can chat while you play them and they're not action and necessarily fast moving.

So I found them to be a really strong social outlet for myself - and we're playing all manner of games. Just the other night we played… Power Grid - my favorite title of all time from a board game perspective to play. I've got 40 plus in my collection…

Otherwise, when I want to solo play online, I do a lot of Magic The Gathering. I’m a big fan - it's a good time sink and a perennial. They are always releasing new content. And of course, I can't go past first person shooters. So when I do get the chance, I'm [playing] Counter-Strike and Chivalry and some of these mods that were created many many years ago, and are now evolved into much more polished versions of the same game. If I feel like something competitive, I do enjoy those.

I don't play things like Elden Ring… that are really punishing. I just don't have the time and patience to handle that.

Simon: Thanks again, Scott. It was a delight to have you on the podcast.

Scott: Likewise. Thanks, Simon. Great to chat. 

Simon: And that's all we've got for this installment of the podcast. We'd like to thank Scott for coming on to talk to us - you can find out more about Mod dot io at its appropriately named website, uhh, Mod.io

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