Last month, EA announced new rules and restrictions on paid mods, early access, and how creators can advertise their creations. And this led to many unfortunate reactions and ongoing controversy within the… Sims community.
The Sims 4 may have been released in 2014, but the life simulator continues to receive massive official updates and features a large, active community of modders who regularly produce user-created content for the game on PC. Some of these creators make a living by selling mods or receiving donations from players who enjoy their work. So it’s not surprising that the July 26 update of EA’s policy – which stated that selling mods or putting them behind a Patreon sub would no longer be allowed – sparked an online firestorm.
Posted in the update on the official EA Sims 4 help site, the company explained that mods cannot be “sold, licensed, or rented for a fee” and that mods cannot add or support “cash transactions of any type.” What this means is you can’t paste your own digital store into it The Sims 4 and sell NFT shirts or sell your mods through a website.
EA did acknowledge that developing a mod takes time and resources and allows creators to sell ads on their modding sites and take donations, but creators can’t incorporate that stuff into the game itself.
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But when this support page first went live, the section stating that paid Early Access was allowed was not included. This led to a major backlash as many content creators and modders use the Early Access model to release mods to dedicated fans who are willing to pay before everything works or is ready. The idea is that once the mod is ready, the developers will release it for free and that paid period will help support them as they work towards completing 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 explanation about selling access to mods was how they could survive.
“Patreon early access is one of the few reasons I can afford my own medicine, food, pet care and apartment so I can live above my disabled father to care for him,” Sims 4 mud JellyPaws told game spot.
After much backlash from players and bad press, EA has now changed course and earlier today updated the help article to include a specific exception for paid Early Access. While selling mods directly or locking them behind a paywall is still a no-no, this new update allows for the community-approved Patreon system.
This is the text EA added to confirm it’s okay with this type of paid mod system.
Offer an early entry incentive for a reasonable amount of time. After a reasonable early access period, all users should be able to access the Mods completely free of charge, whether or not they donate.
Although this helped put out some from the 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 should be removed and published for free? EA only says a “reasonable amount of time” but doesn’t specify it, probably to give the publisher some leeway in evaluating mods on a case-by-case basis.
Kotaku has contacted EA about the Early Access rule and requested clarification.
For now, Sims fans and creators like Kawaii Foxita seems cautiously optimistic about the situation. Of course, if EA reveals that a “reasonable amount of time” is five days or a week, it will likely end up in another mess.