Last month, EA posted for update formalizing its policy that fashion is for Sims 4 “cannot be sold, licensed or rented for a fee.” But the publisher tells Ars that there is another important exception that should ensure that many sims modders can continue to earn significant income from their creations that expand the game.
new EA Modding Policy, first published 21 Julyquite bluntly says that Sim 4 mods “must be non-commercial and free” and that they cannot “contain features that support any type of monetary transaction.” According to the published policy, those who want to monetize their sims modding work is limited to indirect methods such as “passive advertising and donation requests” on their own websites (but not within the mods themselves).
Despite this recent formalization, this policy is not entirely new. In late 2017, former EA Community Manager Amanda Drake posted on the game forum that modders “cannot lock the content they create with our game behind paywalls.” But this post also created a special loophole for creators who wanted to offer an incentive to encourage donations through sites like Patreon:
As long as the content is available for FREE, we don’t mind these types of pages. People who have a Patreon page can give people “early access” incentives to their content, but it must be available to the general public within 2-3 weeks after it is given to people early.
Since then, dozens sims modders took advantage of this exception. Patrons get priority access to mods in development in exchange for monthly Patreon donations, and a few weeks later, finished mods are released for free to all players. This too can be quite lucrative; biggest sims modders can have , from patrons who pay up to $10 or $20 a month each, in part to get early access to new user-generated content.
The loophole was left open
However, with EA’s new policy update last month, many modders have been worried that a specific language about Patreon’s “early access” exclusion is nowhere to be found. Instead, the new text simply states that “all users should have full access to the mods for free, whether or not they make a donation.”
In the days since EA’s update, interested modders have reached out for clarification on whether it will impact their business models. Tumblr modder marylnsims posted a response received from EA support saying that “yes, you are right, early access is not allowed for modders”.
While some in the community doubted the reliability due to this response, the uncertainty has caused some modders to remove their Patreon early access content as a precaution. “It’s very frustrating that early access has been wiped out, but I hope you can all continue to support my work, even without the early access privilege.” – Modder JellyPaws. posted on patreon.
Others such as modder Maxis Match CC World, wrote that they will stick to the early access status quo “until EA announces whether it’s allowed or not!” Modder SimRealistically similar wrote that early access will continue for their backers “until I hear otherwise from EA… Unless otherwise stated in an official statement from EA, we will change our processes and continue from there.”
Fortunately for these modders, EA has clarified to Ars that the Patreon donation early access exception remains in place. While “all users should be able to access full mods for free… creators can still enjoy a reasonable early access period to their content,” an EA spokesperson said.
This will be good news for many sims the modding community, concerned that restrictions on early access patron rewards could affect their livelihood. “I’m not sure if I can continue to make mods if early access isn’t allowed.” – marlynsims. tweeted on the weekend. “For health reasons, Patreon is my only source of income for which EA is not responsible.”
“Early access to Patreon is the only reason I can afford medicine, food, pet care and an apartment so I can live above my disabled dad to take care of him.” — JellyPaws added.