Building the perfect game -- an empirical study of game modifications

Daniel Lee, Dayi Lin, Cor-Paul Bezemer, Ahmed E. Hassan

Game developers cannot always meet the growing and changing needs of the gaming community, due to the often already overloaded schedules of developers. So-called modders can potentially assist game developers with addressing gamers' needs. Modders are enthusiasts who provide modifications or completely new content for a game. By supporting modders, game developers can meet the rapidly growing and varying needs of their gamer base. Modders have the potential to play a role in extending the life expectancy of a game, thereby saving game developers time and money, and leading to a better overall gaming experience for their gamer base. In this paper, we empirically study the metadata of 9,521 mods of the 20 most-modded games on the Nexus Mods distribution platform. Our goal is to provide useful insights into the modding community of the Nexus Mods distribution platform from a quantitative perspective, and to provide researchers with a solid foundation for future exploration of game mods. In doing so, game developers can potentially reduce development time and cost due to the increased replayability of their games through mods. We find that providing official support for mods can be beneficial for the perceived quality of the mods of a game. In addition, mod users are willing to submit bug reports for a mod. However, they often fail to do this in a systematic manner using the bug reporting tool of the Nexus Mods platform, resulting in low-quality bug reports which are difficult to resolve. Based on our findings, we recommend that game developers who desire an active modding community for their own games provide the modding community with an officially-supported modding tool. In addition, we recommend that mod distribution platforms, such as Nexus Mods, improve their bug reporting system to receive higher quality bug reports.

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