Studying the Distribution Platforms for Game Mods to Create Active Modding Communities

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Lee, Dan
mods , mod development , CurseForge , Minecraft , software engineering , gaming , game development , Nexus Mods
Gamer loyalty is important for the sales of a game. However, the gaming industry and the needs of gamers are rapidly increasing, making it difficult for game developers to address these needs. Game mods are modifications of an original game, which can help game developers save cost and time. Hence, it is crucial for game developers to build and maintain an active modding community. In this thesis, we study mods to provide insights to game and mod developers on building an active modding community. An active modding community consists of two dimensions: (1) continuous growth of mods from mod developers, and (2) continuous adoption of mods from gamers. We investigated these two dimensions respectively: To help game developers understand how to help mod developers continuously deliver high quality mods, we investigate the release schedule and post-release support of highly endorsed mods from the top 20 games on the Nexus Mods distribution platform. We observe that supporting the same modding tool within a game franchise is associated with faster release of mods. We also observe that bug reports (i.e., post-release support) of mods is poor in quality, making it difficult to address many of them. However, solved bug reports are often resolved within one day. To help mod developers understand how to build popular mods based on download count, we investigate the impact of 33 features across the following 5 dimensions of popular and unpopular mods in the CurseForge mod distribution platform: mod category, mod documentation, environmental context of mod, remuneration for the mod and community contribution for the mod. We observed that popular mods tend to have a high quality description and promote community contribution. Also, mods that simplify mod development are more likely to be popular. Based on our findings, we suggest game developers who desire an active modding community to provide an officially-supported modding tool. Also, Nexus Mods should improve the quality of their bug reporting system to achieve higher quality bug reports. Furthermore, we suggest mod developers to help improve the support for mod development, to improve the description of their mods, and to welcome community contributions.
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