ByAna Valens, writer at Creators.co
Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.
Ana Valens

Capcom is clamping down on paid mods. Modders Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666 received takedown notices from Capcom in late July, because they were running Patreon pages dedicated to paid access to Street Fighter V mods. Since then, their situation has sent the Street Fighter community into a debate.

Let's set the record straight, though: Creating paid mods without Capcom's permission is illegal. Street Fighter V is copyrighted by the Japanese publisher, so creating paid mods is essentially infringing on the company's legal rights.

More importantly, though, Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666's mods were dealing with some pretty sensitive material, the kind of thing that could weaken a game's brand. Khaledantar666 created a 2B skin for Cammy. Brutal Ace developed a Wonder Woman Chun-Li costume. Both of those characters are copyrighted by other companies: Platinum and DC, respectively. So if Capcom didn't step in, then another party probably would have.

Not to mention, both modders were creating plenty of skins that showed off Street Fighter V's female characters' bodies. Khaledantar666 used to charge $30 to $50 for nude mods, according to Compete. And Brutal Ace officially began working on nude mods in June, having a long history of creating Street Fighter characters in skimpy outfits. These modders were creating some content that bridged the gap between fanservice and adult material.

It's clear why Capcom stepped in with their takedown notices. The company has to control their brand's copyright, and that means protecting Street Fighter V from being labeled as an 18+ or Mature title. If Capcom let paid mods go on, they would have been giving a green light for more adult mods — and that's the kind of signal that could damage Street Fighter's image in the gaming world.

Paids Mods Are Bad For Modders, Period

In gaming, modding is a labor of love. Mod teams sit down with a game, learn how to mod, and create new content to change how the game works and plays. A thriving mod community can extend a game's lifespan, changing gameplay features or adding in new challenges for players to explore. And for that reason, many publishers decide to let modding communities thrive. The bigger the modding community, the more sales that result.

However, when modders start selling their creations for a profit, that starts to change the entire dynamic behind modding; mods become an opportunity to make money. It can encourage other mod teams to go commercial, too. Or even worse, it can lead to groups monopolizing a modding scene. If a rich company began producing unofficial mods for Street Fighter V without repercussions, for instance, they could simply hire, buy out, or push out free modders within the community.

Paid mods are dangerous because they're infectious. Once a modding scene goes commercial, others may try to hop on board. And that means players end up dishing out money just to play the same content that they could have owned for free.

Khaledantar666's 'Zero Hot Samus' [Source: Khaledantar666]
Khaledantar666's 'Zero Hot Samus' [Source: Khaledantar666]

Ironically enough, there's only one way to fight this problem: Publishers have to defend their brands from being commercialized by outside parties. That means sending out takedown notices to modders that are making money off their ventures, and sending clear warnings to modders that they should never attempt to make a living off mods.

It's not a pretty solution, and there's an argument to be made that modders deserve some compensation for their work. But if the publisher doesn't control the floodgates for the modding community, then commercial products can quickly swallow up the entire modding scene. That's not good for players, and it's certainly dangerous for creators. So sometime, it's important to be the bad guy if the ends justify the means.

Do you think paid mods should be legal for video games? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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