Nexus Mods, a mod repository, has announced a policy change regarding the hundreds of thousands of mod files it hosts. Modders who post-mod files to the site will no longer be allowed to remove them after August. Modders will instead only be allowed to archive their files and conceal them from users’ views.
If it strikes you as an unusual policy choice, you’re not alone, and several modders are upset about it. But there is a reason for it, even if not everyone believes that it is a good one. Nexus Mods has been working on a feature dubbed “collections” since 2019. Collections will be curated collections of modifications that can be created and shared by any Nexus Mod user.
“The project our team is working on has the objective of making modding easier so that the typical user may spend less time worrying about mod conflicts and more time enjoying a modified game,” a long article on Nexus Mods states. A mod user may compile a list of modifications in Vortex (the Nexus Mods mod manager) and then submit that list as a collection, including mod load order, patches and hotfixes applied, conflict resolutions, and so on. The collection may then be added by another Vortex user, and Vortex would download and install anything on that list.
That appears to be a useful tool, especially given that mod lists for games like Skyrim may number in the hundreds, and it would be good to be able to quickly share those lists with other users. However, Nexus Mods claims that in order for collections to function properly, modders must be prevented from permanently deleting their files:
“For our collections system, this means that no matter how much care and effort has gone into curating a collection of dozens or hundreds of mods, as soon as one or several files in that collection are deleted by a mod author—for whatever reason—the collection is essentially and immediately ‘dead in the water until the curator can replace or remove the specific file.”
Nexus Mods’ answer is to no longer allow uploaded mod files to be removed. Instead, a modder who wishes to remove their files will only be allowed to archive them. The files will not be immediately accessible or downloaded by users, nor will they be displayed on the site, however, the archived files will remain accessible via the collections function.
I’m a mod user, not a mod maker, but as much as I believe collections might be a fantastic feature (it’s not currently accessible), it’s easy to understand why some mod developers are angry. It can be aggravating when a long chain of dependencies is broken because a mod is deleted, but if you’re a modder and decide you don’t want your mod to be available on Nexus Mods for whatever reason, it intuitively seems like you should be able to delete it (as you can on ModDB or the Steam Workshop, the latter of which also has a mod collections feature).
Modders who wish to opt-out of Nexus Mods can do so. Modders have until August 5 to seek the deletion of their mod files. Concerning files that a mod creator wishes to be destroyed because they are broken or no longer compatible, Nexus Mods says it is investigating a method in which a broken file can be removed on a case-by-case basis in response to a request from the author. Nexus Mods administrators will continue to remove mod files when they break its guidelines (such as by using assets from another author without permission).
Some modders are concerned about the forthcoming collections system for reasons other than deletion. Some modders believe that collections will push users away from individual mod sites (where modders may collect donations for their work) in favor of just utilizing a collection, based on comments on Nexus Mods announcements, Reddit, and the Nexus Mods Discord (which could then result in fewer donations). Some would like to be able to choose whether or not their mod appears in a collection, but Nexus Mods claims there will be no opt-in mechanism for the same reason modders won’t be allowed to delete files—a single modder choosing out might “sabotage” the collection system.
Some modders have already removed their work from Nexus Mods, such as a Skyrim and New Vegas modder who uploaded their mods to ModDB and refers to Nexus Mods as a “den of thieves.” Another intends to delete their mods but may re-upload them after the situation has stabilized, adding, “I would love to have a mod-collection in here but also to have all the flexibility I had as a mod-author.”
Other modders appear to be fine with the new rules. “Curated, high-quality mod lists are the finest thing that’s ever happened to Skyrim modding, and they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, as an author,” claims a Reddit modder whose mods gained a new audience after being included in mod lists for Wabbajack, a Skyrim mod list installer.