Last month, EA announced new rules and restrictions for paid mods, early access, and how creators can promote their creations. And this led to many dissatisfied responses and ongoing disputes within Sims community.
Sims 4 could have been released in 2014, but the life sim continues to receive massive official updates and boasts a large active community of modders who regularly create custom content for the game on PC. Some of these creators make a living selling mods or collecting donations from players who love their work. So it’s no surprise that EA’s policy update on July 26, stating that selling mods or blocking mods behind the Patreon subwoofer is no longer allowed, set off a web storm.
In an update posted on the official EA website 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 “money transactions of any type.” This means that you cannot host your own digital store inside Sims 4 and sell NFT shirts or sell your mods through the website.
EA has acknowledged that developing a mod takes time and resources and allows creators to sell ads on their modding sites and accept donations, but creators can’t include these things in the game itself.
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But when that support page first went live, the part that said allowing paid early access wasn’t included. This has caused a lot of backlash as many content creators and modders are using the early access model to release mods to dedicated fans who are willing to pay before things work properly or are completed. The idea is that once the mod is ready, the developers release it for free, and this paid period helps them keep the mod going.
It looks like EA came in after this rather old system, which was mostly adopted by the community, went about as you would expect. It’s also a nice twist since the publisher tends to support it. Sims community of modders. Playground talked to some content creators about the situationwith some explaining that selling access to mods was how they were able to survive.
“Early access to Patreon is one of the few reasons I can afford medicine, food, pet care and an apartment so I can live above my disabled father to take care of him.” Sims 4 modder Jelly Paws said Playground.
After a lot of backlash from players and bad press, EA reversed course and earlier today updated help article to enable a special exception for Paid Early Access. While direct selling of mods or blocking mods behind paywalls is still prohibited, this new update allows the use of the community-approved Patreon system.
Here is the text added by EA to confirm that this type of paid mod system is ok.
Offer incentives for early access within a reasonable amount of time. After a reasonable early access period, all users should be able to get full access to the mods for free, whether or not they make a donation.
However, although it helped put out a little fire, others are still nervous about how vague this new rule seems. How long can a mod stay in Early Access before EA announces that it must be removed and released for free? EA only talks about a “reasonable amount of time” but doesn’t elaborate, which will likely give the publisher some wiggle room as they evaluate mods on a case-by-case basis.
Kotaku contacted EA about the early access rule and asked for clarification.
At the moment, Sims fans and creators like Kawaii Foxita seem cautiously optimistic about the situation. Of course, if EA shows that the “reasonable amount of time” is five days or a week, it’s likely to be in trouble again.