One of the advantages of playing a PC game is the ability for developers to update, patch and mod their games easily. PC tools and the open nature of the platform also allow games to be ‘modded’ or modified heavily by both the developers of the games, as well as fans in the gamer community. In recent years game mods have grown in popularity. Back in the 90s, games were released with built in map editing software that would allow a gamer to build a custom map to play with friends. I have several fond memories of making custom maps in Warcraft 2 and transporting them to my friend’s houses on floppy disks so we could play them on our dial up modems.
Game modding has gone from building a new map to building entirely new games. The first time I saw this was in Counter Strike. Some fans of Valve’s First Person Shooter Half-Life built a mod where individuals could fight one another instead of against the computer. They put their mod on the then still new Internet and people loved it. Valve purchased Counter Strike from the fans who had written the original and ended up selling more the 25 million copies of it and its sequels.
One of the most popular game mods of all time, Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) was built using the in game tools provided by Warcraft III. DOTA was made available for free within Warcraft III. But it was not just a new map that you would play Warcraft on, it was a completely different game. It was so unique, that DOTA spawned a new genre of games called the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA as well as a sequel. In recent years, MOBA’s have grown exponentially. DOTA 2 was released as a stand alone game, as was League of Legends. Together, they are now the most played games in the World.
In some cases these mods have been embraced by the developers and the community and increased the popularity of the original game. A great example is Day Z which is a mod to the game ARMA 2 and its expansion pack that took the basic game engine and mechanics and created a complete stand alone game in a different genre that is released for free. There are more than 1.7 million people who have created accounts for Day Z. Another great example is the Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings II. Which is used as a selling point for Crusader Kings II. Just hearing about that mod made me check out Crusader Kings II’s website.
The game modding market has taken off to the point where some developers are building tools into their games and encouraging the community to build and distribute mods. Steam has a workshop that is set up to help individuals jump into the experience and upload their mods to the world. I cannot wait to see what new games, genres and experiences are created with these tools.