When Valve and Bethesda introduced paid Skyrim mods on Steam, there was a huge backlash from the community. Some players were unhappy with the profit-sharing model, which only gave 25 percent of each sale to modders, while others were concerned about mod plagiarism and remixing, where contributors build on the work of others. Valve eventually killed the feature, but it left an important question unanswered: was there a better way to repay modders for their hard work? Sprked is hoping to solve the problem with a Patreon-style crowdfunding model. On its site, modders explain their work and fans can put down their cash, paid either by month or by creation, to support them. The modder's work remains free for everyone, but there are certain perks that fans can unlock for supporting, such as concept art, thank you notes and behind the scenes videos.
Sprked takes a 5 percent cut, followed by a further 5 percent for its payment processors Stripe and PayPal. The idea could easily be replicated on Patreon itself, but having a dedicated site could make it easier for modders and fans alike to find one another. The challenge for Sprked now is to attract high-quality modders to its burgeoning platform -- and also ensure the site isn't abused by scammers looking for a quick buck.