In a press release on the official Paradox News feed, the Swedish developer has announced a new partnership with Microsoft to introduce Paradox Mods, a new independent modding platform for Paradox games that works across both PC and Xbox One. This is a new open system unrestricted by any one platform or storefront, that shows the rise in popularity of modding spaces outside of other restrictive options such as Steamworks or the Bethesda.net Creation Club.
In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Paradox Mods’ Product Owner Anders Törlind stated:
"You might recall a time - not so long ago, actually - when we only published PC titles ... There was a time when we were basically Steam exclusive, and at that point we could rely on Steam Workshop for our modding needs.
"But as we started to distribute our own games, and as we started to move into the console space, we realised that, in order to serve all of our customers with mods - and we think mods are a very important part of the gaming experience - there would be a segment of our players that couldn't enjoy modding; neither the act of modding the game, nor using mods."
The Xbox One release of Surviving Mars serves as the first title for the Paradox Mods platform to have a major impact – with one of the first big updates available for the game being the addition of mouse and keyboard support. This is a huge paradigm shift for strategy-focused games in the console space, and another indication that Microsoft itself is lessening the divided between its Xbox and Windows-based games by allowing this functionality to be added in. This coincides with Surviving Mars being one of the first Paradox Mods-enabled games, giving it functionality now on par with the PC version.
"We want to make sure all our players can take part in the creation process"
Of this support for Surviving Mars, Törlind says:
“Modding has been, and remains an important part of the Paradox community. As we have diversified the way we distribute our games, we want to make sure all our players can take part in the creation process ... For Surviving Mars, we have worked with mod creators to support Paradox Mods with some of the best mods available, all in one place and downloadable in-game or simply using a web browser. We really look forward to unlocking the world of modding for all members of our community, regardless of what system they are using to play our games.”
We originally reported on Microsoft’s exploration of open modding as a potential Xbox One feature addition back in July 2018, and it looks like – with Paradox’s help – this is the first manifestation of that new initiative. This is corroborated further in Gamesindustry.biz’s piece, which states that Paradox was experimenting with mods for the Xbox One version of Cities: Skylines as far back as February of that year, but found the moderation process on Microsoft’s end too restrictive. Törlind elaborates:
"The problem with that solution was that you could not submit any mods to us, because they were part of the validation that we had with Microsoft … It was incredibly limiting, and also very time consuming and expensive for us to publish new mods. They needed to go through individual validation, which is pretty much a deal-breaker. That's why we're excited about this version, where we can actually allow people to upload mods and moderate them after the fact. It's fantastic progress, actually.
"[Surviving Mars] is the first time that anyone, to our knowledge, has a modding solution for Xbox that is open for submission without pre-moderation ... For all intents and purposes, Xbox players will have the same selection of mods that PC players will have."
On our end, it’s incredibly exciting to see other developers and publishers known for their strong modding support arrive at the same conclusion that we have with the creation of mod.io, our platform-agnostic modding API that solves similar issues that being tied to one storefront created. Not only is console modding support an exciting new area to explore, the diversification of PC storefronts outside of the juggernaut that is Steam – with the Epic Store, GOG Galaxy, Discord, and others – shows the limitations behind modding solutions such as Steamworks and the Bethesda Creation Club when it comes to a more open approach and mindset behind the modding scene itself.
"For all intents and purposes, Xbox players will have the same selection of mods that PC players will have"
You can check out the currently submitted mods for Surviving Mars on the Paradox Plaza here. We look forward to seeing where Paradox takes the platform as future titles gain cross-platform mod support, and are energised by this new open approach to modding from both Paradox and Microsoft itself.