Last month EA announced new rules and restrictions on paid mods, early access and how developers can promote their creations. And this led to many unfortunate reactions and ongoing controversies within the community sims community.
The Sims 4 may have been released in 2014, but the life simulator continues to receive massive official updates and boasts a large, active community of modders who regularly produce user-created content for the game on PC. Some of these developers make a living selling mods or accepting donations from players who enjoy their work. So it’s not surprising that the July 26th update to EA’s policy – which stated that selling mods or being banned behind a Patreon sub would no longer be allowed – sparked a firestorm online.
In the update posted to the official EA Sim’s 4 help page, the company stated that mods cannot be “sold, licensed, or rented for a fee” and that mods cannot add or support “money transactions of any kind”. That means you can’t plug your own digital store into it The Sims 4 and sell NFT shirts or sell your mods through a website.
EA has recognized that developing a mod takes time and resources and allows developers to sell ads on their modding sites and accept donations, but developers cannot integrate these things into the game itself.
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But when this support page first went online, the part mentioning that paid early access is allowed wasn’t included. This caused a huge backlash as many content creators and modders use the Early Access model to release mods to dedicated fans who are willing to pay before anything works properly or is ready. The idea is that once the mod is complete, the developers will release it for free and this paid period will help assist them in their work towards the completion of the mod.
EA seemingly coming after this fairly old system that was mostly accepted by the community went over about as well as you’d expect. It’s also quite a turn as the publisher is typically supportive of its Sims modding community. game spot spoke to some content creators about the situationwith some stating that they survived by selling access to mods.
“Patreon Early Access is one of the only reasons I can afford my own medication, groceries, pet care, and housing so I can live above and care for my disabled father.” Sim’s 4 modders JellyPaws said game spot.
After much backlash from players and some bad press, EA has now changed course and earlier today updated the help article Include a special carve-out for paid Early Access. While selling mods directly or locking them behind a paywall is still taboo, this new update enables the community-approved Patreon system.
Here is the text that EA added to confirm it is ok with this type of paid mod system.
Provide an early access incentive for a reasonable period of time. After a reasonable Early Access period, all users must be able to access the mods for free, regardless of whether they donate or not.
However, this helped wipe out some of fire, others are still nervous about how vague this new rule seems to be. How long can a mod stay in Early Access before EA declares it needs to be removed and released for free? EA only says a “reasonable amount of time,” but doesn’t specify anything, likely to give the publisher some leeway when evaluating mods on a case-by-case basis.
kotaku contacted EA regarding the Early Access rule and asked for clarification.
For now, sims fans and makers like Kawaii Foxita seem cautiously optimistic about the situation. Of course, if EA reveals that a “reasonable amount of time” is five days or a week, it’ll likely find itself in a different mess.