Mods Have Carried PC Gaming, Expect More Games to Hitch a Ride

In case you aren’t aware of what a “mod” or “modification” is, a mod is community created content for a game that can be in the form of new levels, new story, new weapons, new anything. Mods can even be something entirely different from the original game that they were modding. Some modifications are so extensive that they spawn entirely new games and entirely new genres.

Mods are not something new, they have been around for a long time. There have been and still are many great communities surrounding mod-friendly games. Some of these games are pretty old, but are still played because of the mod community’s added value.

I would like to talk to you a bit about how mods have been a persistent presence in the past of PC gaming, and how I see a trend that will make the presence of mods much larger, as I see more AAA-like titles getting mod support in the near future.

First, a bit on past successful mods.

CS 1.6

Everyone knows who Valve is now, but I don’t think many know exactly what they do. The basis for Valve’s company has really been from hiring different people that created mods for games, some of them Valve’s, as well as some people who were independently making a game. Counter-Strike started out as a mod for Half-Life, Team Fortress as a mod for Quake, and Portal started out as an independent game, from which Valve hired the development team. I think it is safe to say that mods have had a big impact on creating one of gaming’s most beloved companies.

Of the many past massively successful mods, there is one more I would like to give an example of, which is DotA (Defense of the Ancients). This mod started out on Warcraft III, and originally (as I remember at least) was not very popular. It picked up traction later though, obviously, and has spawned an entirely new gaming genre, MOBA, that has become massively popular with Dota 2, League of Legends, and Heroes of Newerth – just some of the many examples.

There are many tight-knit mod communities surrounding smaller games as well. Games like Mount & Blade, Killing Floor and the Total War series have active mod communities around them. Many games only really stay relevant because of the popular modding communities behind them.

Hell, this past week or so I have been playing Warcraft III again, looking at old maps/games I used to play and finding a wealth of new and cool stuff. I only went back to play it for the mods, and I found a very active mod community still. The only reason Warcraft III is still relevant is because of the mod community.

It is obvious to me that mods have had, and continue to have, a lasting and beneficial impact on PC gaming.

Now, let’s take a look at why I think mods will have an even bigger presence in the PC gaming world by first looking at what benefits mods provide for games. Mods increase the news and buzz around a game, like DayZ with ArmA II. They increase the longevity of a game by a ridiculous amount, like with Battlefield 1942, which is a 12-year-old game but has a very active modding community. Mods also provide opportunities for new games to be created, so if developers and publishers are smart enough, they could then be picked up and made into a game, like most of Valve’s titles.

I think now there are many developers and publishers realizing those benefits of having and supporting a modding community. You may ask, “why now?,” especially since there have already been so many unbelievably successful mods in the past.

DayZNow there is just too much unmistakable and undeniable evidence of successful mods in front of the PC gaming world that the developers and publishers can no longer ignore it. Before, there were many mod communities, but they were for niche titles. Counter-Strike was a real rarity. Now, there are examples like the behemoth that is the MOBA genre.

There are even more examples with DayZ being announced to be a new standalone title, and it’s taken the PC gaming community by storm. The Steam Workshop is getting a lot of user-created content and the communities there are thriving. Games like Skyrim, Civilization V, and Portal 2 all have many mods surrounding them and that keeps people playing the game long after they have finished the main part created by developers.

Other developers like CD Projekt RED, who created The Witcher, are jumping in on it now too by creating REDkit, mod tools for The Witcher 2. Many of those developers and publishers may realize those benefits in monetary terms. I am still all for it. The mods and communities surrounding them are nothing but a benefit to me and other gamers.

As I mentioned earlier, most games with reasonable mod support in the past have been smaller games. Now big name games are starting a mod community or already have one. The Witcher 2 will have mod tools soon, there are many mods surrounding Skyrim right now, and Starcraft II has a ton of custom maps/games to play.

Original DotA

This is a relatively new trend among larger games, and it will continue because developers and publishers have so many current examples right in front of their eyes. I hope that I am right in that there will be many more mod communities out there, because with many games, the mods I have played for them have been way better than the original game.

There are so many games I didn’t mention because there are just too many. There are various other types of mods too, but I felt those with the largest impact were those that created whole new games. There are mods that improve graphics, fix bugs in games, change the UI in games, and many, many more.

In any case, mods are an amazing benefit to the gaming community and provide great things for developers and publishers as well, all they have to do is provide the tools and their job is done.

If you are playing your PC games without looking into the mods that may exist for them, you are truly missing out on the potential of that game, and what makes PC gaming so unique.

What are some of your favorite mods?