2018 in review and 2019 in the view

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I'm late. I know, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's already the middle of February and I haven't done my usual yearly keyboard bashing session where I smash out a semi-coherent review of the previous year and talk about what we hope to get done in this year. Truth be told, I wasn't sure if anyone really wanted to read through my banal twitterings or not and whether I would do this, so let me know at the end if my time (and yours) was worth it.


2018 in numbers

In short, Nexus Mods continues to grow at an increasing rate. The exciting thing for us is that it's not just the Bethesda games we host mods for that continue to grow in popularity on Nexus Mods. The mods for other games not made by Bethesda have also exploded in popularity in the past year.

Nexus Mods averaged 4,996,242 unique users each month in 2018, up from 4,582,755 in 2017, representing a 9% increase in users. In contrast, the average pageviews are down from 132,500,000 in 2018 compared to 138,500,000 representing a 4% decrease. While this might seem odd, our site redesign came out in December of 2017 which makes more use of web technologies like Ajax that will reduce the number of registered pageviews (as full page reloads won't be counted). The average time a user spends on the site has increased by 5 seconds to 11 minutes and 46 seconds compared to 2017, so we do not think the site redesign has had a negative impact on user interaction.

2,313,857 new members joined us in 2018, up 43% from the 1,612,142 who joined us in 2017, meaning Nexus Mods now has over 16.5 million users. No doubt this number was bolstered by our change to the download system requiring all users to have an account to download (previously files less than 2MB in size didn't require you to login). This change was made in May 2018 to accommodate the mod author's Donation Point system.

136 new games were added to Nexus Mods in 2018, up 86% on 2017's 73 new games.

33,304 new mods were uploaded to Nexus Mods in 2018, representing a 19% increase on 2017's number of 27,891. Of which, 22,480 were mods for Bethesda games and 10,824 were for non-Bethesda games. This represents a 4% increase of new Bethesda mods on 2017's number of 21,647 and a 73% increase in new non-Bethesda game mods compared to 2017's 6,244. Frankly, this is awesome news to us. Bethesda mods continue to grow in popularity despite the respective age of the games while our catalogue of non-Bethesda game mods is increasing at a truly amazing rate.

As a result, 68% of new mods on Nexus Mods are now for Bethesda games, while 32% are for non-Bethesda games. 2017's figure was 78% and 22% respectively. This is pleasing to us, considering Bethesda modding continues to flourish rather than diminish and we continue to make inroads to supporting as many games as possible. The best of both worlds, as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, Nexus Mods served 226,582,588 unique downloads in 2018, up from the 207,582,827 unique downloads we served in 2017, representing a 9% increase. Similarly, we're now serving an average of 3.5 Petabytes (3,500 Terabytes) of bandwidth each month, up from 2.6 Petabytes in 2017.

That's a lot of "ups". Needless to say, I'm very pleased with the figures that have come out of 2018. Each year I take a look at the Bethesda modding scene and think "it's got to start declining now, surely people are going to get bored of these games eventually and move on to newer ones?". That hasn't been the case, yet, and it's truly impressive. It serves as a testament to all the modders, and to Bethesda themselves. On the flip side, Nexus Mods is now also one of the largest independent mod hosting platforms for non-Bethesda games. 2018 saw us surpass some of the bigger mod hosting sites even for non-Bethesda games based on raw figures. It's great to continue to shrug off the "just for Bethesda mods" moniker.


2018 in review

2018 was light on major updates to the site compared to previous years so you might have been fooled into thinking we hadn't been busy. Truth is, we've never been busier.

Tweaks and fixes to the site

At the start of 2018 we had only just launched our new site design. There was certainly plenty of constructive (and not so constructive) criticism for us to sift through. Our team spent considerable time refining borders, paddings, margins, widths, fonts, sizes and all sorts to increase readability and respond to the relevant criticisms provided by users.

Vortex released into Alpha

We released Vortex to the public in February 2018 as an alpha release, looking for more users to help us test the software, report bugs and provide feedback to help us improve. The alpha was downloaded by thousands of users and we got exactly what we wanted. Plenty of feedback!

We moved offices

In 2017 we set up our first office. A small box of a room in a managed office space that 4 of us worked from. Up until then, all the staff at Nexus Mods were working remotely in various countries in Europe and the US. The office was an experiment to see whether we could improve our workflows, efficiency and the general quality of our work by being in an office and working together.

The answer to that question was a resounding "yes".

Truth is, there are plenty of remote working and remote management tools out there that fill the gap, but I guarantee you nothing is better than working in the same environment as your colleagues, together, face-to-face.

With the experiment a success, we moved into a more appropriately sized office for our workforce and set about the long task of relocating current staff and saying goodbye to staff who could not make the move. That process is still continuing into 2019.

Donation Points!

In May we announced and released the project we'd been working on for over 6 months. Donation Points is our way of giving back to, and supporting, the mod authors on Nexus Mods. In a nutshell, mod authors would now receive a monthly reward based on how many unique downloads their opted-in files received.

To date, we've given away over $81,000 worth of DP to mod authors. The overwhelming sentiment towards this new system has been extremely positive and we love hearing the stories mod authors tell of how even seeing a few cents worth of DP come into their account puts a smile on their face. Of course, there are many mod authors who are receiving a substantial amount each month as well. We're happy when the mod authors are happy, and 2018 probably saw the least amount of drama I've seen in my 18 years working in the modding community. So we're pretty happy right now!

New community managers

In June we welcomed BigBizkit and Pickysaurus to our Community Management team, working from our offices in Exeter. Our previous community team of Terrorfox and SirSalami sadly could not relocate to our offices for Visa related reasons and we said a very friendly goodbye to both of them by the end of 2018. As a parting gift, they did a great job training up the new guys and making them an integral part of the team. Our thanks and best wishes go out to both of them.

Preliminary 2FA

With the addition of the Donation Points system, the prevalence of database leaks on the wider web (including our own, from 2013) and the knowledge that bad people are always looking for ways of getting into users accounts, no matter what site they're on, we released a rudimentary 2FA system for users to make use of in July. If you haven't enabled it already, you probably should.

Download speed increases

With the increasing trend towards adblockers on the internet, we decided to show our gratitude to those users who do not use adblockers or who have previously supported the site with Supporter or Premium Membership by doubling their speed cap on the site from 1MB/second to 2MB/second.

Vortex moved into Beta phase

Following the February release of the Vortex Alpha, Vortex officially moved into another important milestone in October, the Beta phase. 26 updates were made to Vortex during the Alpha phase, fixing bugs, refining functionality and responding to user feedback and criticisms. The Beta phase is more of the same process but in a much more polished state. Improvements and bug fixes continue to be added to the Beta on a regular basis.

Lots and lots (and lots) of background stuff

Then there are all the unseen things.

For you tech nerds, we continue to work on upgrading and updating both our infrastructure and underlying codebase to bring it into the modern age. We're heavily moving away from the standard "LAMP" stack and heavily making use of more modern alternatives including all the latest buzz words; Kubernetes, Docker, Elasticsearch et al. We're slowly replacing the old systems with modern, containerised, alternatives in a variety of different languages and using a variety of different data solutions based on the requirements. MySQL has been shunned. PHP mocked. I've not got a clue! I was always a LAMP guy, and a poor one at that. So really, this is just me parroting things from our developer meetings.


2019 and what's in store

Still with us? Read it all? Understood some of it? Well done! Let's continue and look at what's happened already in 2019 and what we're aiming to achieve.

Nexus Mods API

Just last week we released our public API. This essentially officially opens up a lot of the data on our site to app and website developers for them to make use of in their software. For example, any mod manager that wants to integrate with the Nexus Mods site or make use of the site's data to populate the data in their own software will likely find the API useful. This API will continue to be updated and more endpoints will be added as and when they're needed. It's highly driven by the needs of Vortex, but we've got a friendly group of various software developers from the community in a Discord channel who are making requests of us as well.

Front end team

We're currently in the final stages of hiring a new front end team, this time with both a designer and a dedicated front end developer. Our previous attempt at this in 2018 didn't go so well, simply because our predominantly backend focused developers do not have the time (or realistically, the willpower) for front end work. Hopefully our new team will prevent this issue from happening again and create very tangible changes to the site in 2019 that you all like.

Vortex 1.0 release

The Vortex Beta was released in October. Since then, we've released several updates to the software that include bug fixes, speed and load time improvements and UI and UX tweaks to make the software less confusing. The aim of the Beta phase is not to add any major new functionality, but instead, to refine what functionality already exists and remove all the major bugs we know about (and hopefully all the minor ones too!).

Having said that, new game support continues to get added to Vortex on the backs of third-party developers making good use of the open source nature of Vortex. We're thankful to anyone who is helping us to improve or add to Vortex. More on that in a minute.

This month, Vortex surpassed the 1 million unique downloads mark. A great milestone to hit.

As we work towards a 1.0 release of Vortex our Community team are working on improving the documentation, including a full "How to mod your game and install 10 of the most popular mods" style guide for the very beginners, among other guides that should improve the built-in knowledge base and wiki further for users.

We do not have a set date for the 1.0 release, but we stand by what was said in the news release, that we do not want it to last any longer than the Alpha phase lasted.

Mod Packs

Holy-moly, look at this little nugget, hidden away in the middle of my long-ass yearly review.

Mod packs are, quite simply, a system whereby a user's mod profile is turned into a "mod pack" in such a way that they, or another user, can download that mod pack and all the mods contained (or referenced) in the pack will be installed in the exact same way, in the exact same order, as the original profile. Use cases include if you get a new PC and want to transfer your working mod setup to another PC (i.e. a decent backup and restore system for your mod profiles), YouTubers being able to share their mod setups with their viewers or you simply wanting to share your cool mod setup with your friends.

It has caused some controversy in the past due to various reasons, including it taking downloads away from mod authors, the worry it would increase false support issues for mod authors caused by bad mod packs and because others who have attempted to do this have basically created a "mod piracy" platform that completely ignores (and breaks) copyright laws because they did not have permission to distribute the mods contained in the mod packs. Whatever we come up with will ensure none of these are a realistic issue.

Being honest, a large part of the work we've done over the past few years; modernising our processes, increasing our team, redesigning the site, introducing the Donation Points system and moving away from NMM and working on Vortex points to this much sought after feature in the community. All the above needed to happen before we could properly tackle this polarising idea.

We've already done our first proper sit down meeting with all aspects of the Nexus Mods team, whiteboard and marker pens and all, to drill out the high-level requirements for the system. There will be many more before we're done.

When we're ready to talk about it more then the mod authors and the software developers will be the first people we talk to. What I can tell you is that the system/framework will be open source and linked to our API, so this is not going to be a Vortex exclusive system. If Mod Organizer or any other mod manager wants to make use of the system in part or in full, they'll be able to.

I'm sure you've got questions, but we won't be giving answers at this stage. Just take this as us putting our flag in the ground and saying "Nexus Mods is going to tackle mod packs in 2019".

Queuing downloads

As mobile phone and tablet usage of the site continues to increase and we acknowledge that a lot of our users browse the site when they're away from their main gaming PC (i.e. when on a break at work or at school), we plan to implement a system that will allow you to queue a download for later. The idea being you'll mark the file for download and when you get home, your mod manager will download any files you have queued on the site since you last used it.

Donation Points

The Donation Points system has been a resounding success thus far. As mentioned earlier, $81,000 worth of DP has already been handed out and we're very happy with how it has worked out.

As we continue to increase our mod offerings for lots of games, we'd like to continue to incentivise and reward mod authors who make use of Nexus Mods, even when the games being modded aren't as popular as the Skyrims and Fallouts of the gaming world.

With this in mind, we plan to create a secondary funding pool set aside specifically for non-Bethesda games on Nexus Mods. This won't take out of the main pool that already exists, but instead will be used to supplement the Donation Points that get given out to mod authors for games outside of Bethesda's ownership.

As our new front end team get into their groove, we'll also improve our reporting on the Donation Points system for all to see, providing monthly breakdowns of how much was sent out, the split between all the games and any other pertinent information that doesn't reveal private data on individual users.

Reworking the user database, registration and eCommerce system

To say our user system is archaic would be putting it lightly. One of the biggest tasks we'll be working on this year will be ripping out our current user database and completely reworking it from the ground up. The aim is to greatly improve server performance, reduce our server requirements and significantly improve security. In doing so, this will also allow us to completely overhaul our awful registration process that is tied into the forums along with our Premium Membership purchasing system.

This will pave the way for some more "fun" features down the road and into 2020, like gamifying the user experience so users who like and respond to that sort of thing can feel like their activity on the site is being more readily recognised.

Bounty reward system for developers

Since releasing NMM in 2011 we've ensured the work we've done on any of our software has been open source for all the community to see, edit, tweak, copy and or use in their own software. We continued this "tradition" with Vortex, improving on the idea by deliberately making Vortex easily extensible. Essentially, modding Vortex is a thing much more than it was for NMM. Our open API compounds on this philosophy further.

We think that an open source philosophy is an extremely important aspect that all mod managers in the modding community should adhere to, so much so that we have, on occasion, requested other mod managers be open source if they want to be hosted on Nexus Mods.

One of the bonuses of releasing Vortex as open source is that other developers have been able to offer their own code to the project. Some of the games Vortex supports have only been added because members of the community have coded this functionality and provided it to Vortex. In the past week, I've been working on contacting these developers to provide them with a small, but not insignificant, financial reward for their troubles and as a thank you.

It is our intention to work more closely with third-party developers who would like to develop functionality, provide bug fixes or expand on or improve Vortex. To this end, we hope to create a "Bounty" system, listing functionality that we would like to add to Vortex but do not have the time to add any time soon. We'll happily work with and pay developers to create this functionality for us.

The cost of hiring developers increases every year and when you factor in office space, insurance, taxes and myriad other costs associated with hiring someone, setting aside £10,000 - £20,000 a year to reward people making Vortex better is a great way of both encouraging others getting involved with developing Vortex while saving us money compared to hiring a full time developer.

If you're interested in this system, or simply interested in helping us to develop Vortex, please get in touch.

More game support

Vortex now has modding support for 46 games on Nexus Mods. For reference, Nexus Mod Manager only supports 24. Following on from the Bounty System post above, we're always keen to get more games supported both on the site and within Vortex. We're working on adding more game support ourselves, but we're also keen to work with talented developers to introduce more modding support to Vortex.


In conclusion

Well done if you made it all the way through!

The TL;DR to take away from all this is quite simple; Nexus Mods is continuing to not only grow but actually grow faster than ever before, we did quite a lot of stuff in 2018 and we've got lots planned for 2019 and beyond. Some of it is even quite exciting!

Thank you to all of you who are a part of this success, and I hope your 2019 is going as well as ours so far.

66 comments

  1. Thandal
    Thandal
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    I agree with opt-out, but in order to push the ModPack feature and make it legitimate again modders who choose to opt-in should be rewarded in some way financially.



     
    Careful.   Promising any form of payment for modding is a clear no-no, and a good way to get slapped with a "cease and desist" letter from game publishers' lawyers.  Note that the Nexus "Donation Points" system relies on strictly voluntary contributions from players.
  2. TheGreatFalro
    TheGreatFalro
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    Great thoughts as always Dark!
     
    Interesting to see you're thinking about mod packs.  My two cents is that authors should be able to opt-out of such a system if they so wish.  But I know you'll find a solution that works for everyone!
    1. Vanguarde2017
      Vanguarde2017
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      I agree with opt-out, but in order to push the ModPack feature and make it legitimate again modders who choose to opt-in should be rewarded in some way financially.
  3. Vanguarde2017
    Vanguarde2017
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    I am hoping by starting now the ModPack feature will be the "killer app" of the NexusMods by the time the sequel to Skyrim is out, in 2022 or 2023 after everyone has mostly forgotten about Fallout 76 ;)
  4. Vanguarde2017
    Vanguarde2017
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    I am eager to see this ModPack functionality. I would love to simply press one button and download another users modlist to try out, with Vortex installing all the mods one after another in the correct order.

    Mod creators must get proper credit and be allowed to opt-out of the system. Mod creators who opt-in should be rewarded financially. Making it easier to bulk install mods will benefit everyone.

    I am getting seriously tired of digging around for mods and installing complex systems. I have three boys now and I don't have the time anymore! lol
  5. TerrorFox1234
    TerrorFox1234
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    You didn't forget me :')
  6. hype1
    hype1
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    Really interesting, I enjoyed reading it :-)
    Queueing downloads and modpacks sound interesting.
    I joined in December 2011, right after Skyrim came out. My god, so much has changed since then.

    I love the whole modding community here, of course there are a few trolls but overall this is the most helpful and friendly community I have ever been part of.
  7. easywolf
    easywolf
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    Great job!! Great website! And Vortex is amazing! Would love to see a standardized menu for ever mod that says if it's ok to install mid playthrough, correct load order, but that's probably hard to do with so many possibiliities.
  8. JoseSnake
    JoseSnake
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    Regarding 2FA, you'll find the current system is easily exploit and bypassed by blackhats, we should have the option to use an authenticator (rather than e-mail, due to the application passwords those have).
  9. KALOWG
    KALOWG
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    I love these yearly reviews. Keep them coming!
  10. FreedomsFlame
    FreedomsFlame
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    I appreciate getting the yearly review and roadmap, especially now when Nexus is going through some pretty drastic changes (Vortex and mod packs are kind of a big deal). Keep up the good work, y'all.
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