Acknowledging the considerable effect mods like Defense of the Ancients have had on the Blizzard community, Blizzard design head Rob Pardo has revealed that mod-makers will be able to sell the custom maps they create for the upcoming StarCraft II through an official marketplace.
At launch, the marketplace will immediately allow free distribution of mods, but commerce functionality will be added in later. Still, Pardo said, it is under active development at Blizzard.
"Imagine what could happen if you could hire a small dev team and use StarCraft II almost as an engine," he said. "This is an opportunity for [modders] to share in the rewards of our success."
After all, Pardo said, Defense of the Ancients has a measurable impact on the game industry as a whole -- "The tower defense [genre] came out of the WarCraft III mod community, and now you see tower defense [games] on the PlayStation Store, and in [PopCap's] Plants vs. Zombies."
He pointed to mods for Valve-developed games, such as Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat, as further examples of the possibility of the mod space -- but was sure to add, "We want to make sure the best amateur game designers out there are making content for StarCraft II, and not for Kongregate or Steam or anything like that."
As such, the company is building in mod functionality that goes beyond what StarCraft II designers themselves use in the official game.
For example, Pardo said, "We don't need an item system in StarCraft II, but we wanted to make sure that's in there for people to use" in custom games.
The exec gave no indication of when the paid marketplace would surface -- and the game itself was recently pushed back to 2010 -- but he said prospective designer should start jotting down ideas now.
"Anyone here who wants to do it, please start getting prepared to make some awesome maps," he said. "We want to give you the head start to start thinking about ideas and get teams together. It takes a while to make awesome games, so here's your head start."