I loved Minecraft since early Beta, have extensive Java and software design experience, will soon have plenty of free time, and have the crazy thought of writing Minecraft mods and eventually making a living from it.
I have no doubt I can make and support a successful mod (or a few), but I don't want to spend thousands of hours making and supporting a successful mod with millions of downloads... just to discover that the income is too low to justify the effort.
So, on to the questions:
Approximately how much income can be expected, per million downloads?
Is that income only from advertisement payments from downloads, or are there other revenue sources?
What are the best ways to promote your mod? (Key forums and download sites, getting youtube reviews, etc)
Besides satisfying a previously unmet or poorly met need and making the mod useful, intuitive, reliable and well documented, do you have additional advice to make a mod successful?
Any advice on the best ways to make a mod function on both Fabric and Forge (and any other future modding frameworks), and both Client and Server?
What is the best forum/discord/etc for mod developers to interact?
What is the best license type to use?
Is there anything I missed asking?
My thanks in advance to all successful mod developers that take the time to reply.
It is against Minecraft's EULA to profit off of mods you create.
OK, so not a good plan. No wonder there are so few well written mods. I can use my skills elsewhere.
So, how do mod makers get away with virtually every download being routed through an ad site, asking for Patreon support, and having youtube channels where they get paid based on viewership? Not arguing, it just seems strange that they are not enforcing the Eula in those cases.
Also, I just saw a review of a Disney DLC that is sold. Where does that fit? Are there some for-profit activities that are allowed? Just not mods? If so, how do I find out what is allowed and what is not... in normal English, not misleading legalese like the Eula?
Or perhaps, after trying to decipher the EULA, is the question not whether you can profit from mods, but rather HOW you need to write the mods and WHICH mechanisms you can use to earn income... so that you don't violate the EULA? I wonder if avoiding EULA traps is the reason why most successful mod developers prefer Forge over Fabric, even though Fabric seems to be the easier and more flexible of the two.
You might get some amount per million downloads but not enough for living. And it is also against Minecraft rules.
If you are having plenty of time and are interested in business why don't you do any other business like a startup or any real estate business?
You can also start your own gaming or digital company or company that is related to mod but independent of Minecraft.
starting any business is simple but sometimes it is difficult if you don't know the right information. Business entity search is the primary step to opening any business company. It includes naming your business to get a license. If you are interested you can refer to it. Being myself entrepreneur I would suggest having your own startup rather than being dependent on any company.
It was just an idea, as it was a way to combine fun with work while also providing a badly needed public service.
The thought behind it was something I noticed after playing it since early Beta:
- Minecraft is a fun game but becomes extremely grindy and boring after a short time. The only way around it is with mods, so that you can address its limitations and tailor it to the player's preferred play style.
- But the vast majority of mods are either quick and dirty experiments, or get abandoned after a few months or years due to the need for constant updates, which seriously messes up the idea of modded gameplay.
- So, there is a significant need for serious mod development and ongoing update maintenance. The serious/professional quality part happens randomly and so it is covered. But the long term maintenance bit is harder, since nobody is going to keep updating a mod forever unless the have an additional motivation/compensation. They might create it for free as it is fun, but maintaining it forever is another story. And given that there is a very small number of mods that indeed stood the test of time, it seems obvious that there must be a way to profit - even if very modestly - from maintaining a good mod forever without violating the EULA.
- Since I don't need the income, "very modest" was good enough for me to consider and start this thread to figure out the how.
Since then I discovered that discovering the how to do it without violating the Eula is much harder than expected and totally not worth the effort. I definitely will not be pushing this path unless the rules change, which is extremely unlikely.
I also have been experimenting by making a mod and found out how bad is the documentation needed for nodding, and now understand why there are so few truly good mods. I probably will keep my mod to myself, since there is no way I will bother to maintain it regularly. There is no point getting people hooked on it only to see it broken by a future base game update.
As to doing another business, that is very likely what I will do... must do something to keep busy and the brain fresh after retirement.
There is no point getting people hooked on it only to see it broken by a future base game update.
IMO, why does the base version a mod is based matter so much? Especially considering a mod like TMCW, a total-conversion, alternate development path-based mod - it doesn't even make sense to port TMCW to newer versions considering that many of its features intend to show my own ideas of how they could have been implemented (for example, I'd totally replace all world generation with my own, same for the 1.9 combat system, or the anvil mechanics/Mending, trading/villager breeding systems/other overly complicated mechanics/unnecessary crafting stations, and indeed, the very core game logic; there is a reason why TMCW is so lightweight and it isn't just my own optimizations). In fact, the only reason I might ever "update" TMCW to a newer version is if GPU vendors decide to completely drop support for legacy "fixed function" OpenGL, and even then it would be more of backporting the libraries and OpenGL functions of current versions (basically, updating all code that references LWJGL to use newer functions; you'd still be modding the 1.6.4 jar and replacing the json file with a custom one referencing the newer libraries).
People also actually still do play and even create new mods for even older versions, often in the same vein as TMCW (you might know how controversial Beta 1.8+ was - many players are still sore about it to this day, a few go even further and dislike anything after Alpha); in the end, all of my own mods were created for my own use and I simply thought that others might be interested in them (I have no idea how many downloads any of my mods have gotten), as the description for TMCW starts with:
This is a mod that I made for my own use that I thought I'd make available for download if anybody else wanted to try it.
Likewise, the description in my signature, "my own version of Minecraft largely based on my views of how the game should have evolved since 1.6.4." is shared by many other similar mods, which all completely overhaul the game or intend to act as updates from a last known "good" version (1.6.4 in my case):
In short, Better Than Wolves is a vision of what Mincraft could have been, designed by a very serious player, for other like minded individuals.
"Better Than Adventure" (BTA) is an extensive mod for Minecraft beta 1.7.3, bringing out regular updates attempting to create a more "finalized" version of beta Minecraft while also maintaining the look and feel of the game pre-adventure update. BTA works very different from other mods as it acts as more of a “fork” of Minecraft, than an addition to it.
Not So Seecret Saturday is a project that I've been working on over the past three years to provide a sort of alternative to what we ultimately got: a minecraft from some parallel reality where Notch scrapped biomes and worked on other ideas. Due to this philosophy, NSSS (pronounced as N-Triple-S) works very differently from other mods: NSSS is essentially a fork of Minecraft Alpha 1.1.2_01, with an entirely refactored and reorganized codebase.
Also, whether it is truly legal or not Mojang doesn't really seem to care if you profit via donations or ads; why haven't they taken down any popular mods, especially ones like Optifine? (Optifine doubly violates the EULA by offering capes as a reward for donating - Mojang has emphasized that they are the only source of capes, even if they are free, which Optifine's are not). The only mods I've heard of being taken down were for other reasons, such as Pixelmon, which was due to a DMCA from Nintendo, not Mojang - even many pirated clients, like TLauncher, have been around for years with no action (yes, I know this does not mean that it is alright to do, but then why do they allow them to continue, especially since they are literally losing money from pirated accounts? Donations and ads do not directly affect Mojang's income).
Interestingly, they actually do say that you can make money off of mods by charging for access to a modded server, or accepting donations:
Servers and Hosting
With hosting servers, we want to enable the community to make money by creating, hosting, and maintaining servers for Minecraft, so you may do this subject to these Guidelines. By "server," we mean a single connecting address or IP number. Therefore, if you comply with and follow the Brand and Asset Usage Guidelines and Naming Guidelines above, YOU MAY:
charge for access to your server, including a server which hosts your Mods, BUT only if:
you make a charge per person that is the same for everyone;
you give everyone you charge access to all the Mods that you choose to have on your server (except only in respect of genuine admin tools / admin Mods which should be reserved to administrators);
you only give access to your server to users who have a genuine paid for version of Minecraft;
you own or control the server and continue to do so for the whole time that you charge for access to it - so, if you sell the actual servers or server space with Mods pre-installed on them, you must ensure that the person buying the server is aware that she must follow these rules. Essentially you can’t get around the above by setting up servers with Mods on and then selling those set-ups
ask for donations (as opposed to direct charges) IF you do not offer the individual donor something in exchange that only he or she can use. You may offer server wide rewards if donation goals are achieved though.
CurseForge has a rewards program where, by uploading content, you can earn points to make money.
An alternative solution could be for you to get into Spigot plugin development where you can make plugins for Minecraft and sell these on their site. I'm pretty sure this is 100% EULA compliant because it's not mods and Spigot is well-known. However, the downside of this is you have to wait a few months, publish a couple of free resources and basically be active in the community. There are many other sites where you can sell Minecraft resources like MC Market aswell.
Edit: Btw I am not a successful mod developer so you don't have to take my advice!