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The world's biggest mod site pops the cork on 10 billion downloads and $7 million-worth of payouts: 'If every download were a footstep, you could walk to the Moon 11 times'

 A load of tiles showing games Nexus Mods has mods for.
A load of tiles showing games Nexus Mods has mods for.

Nexus Mods, the world's largest mod site and almost certainly a bookmark in your browser if you've ever wanted to fiddle with Skyrim, obliterate yourself in Fallout, or annihilate thugs with cans of soft drink, is celebrating a milestone. Specifically, it's celebrating the fact that the site will today hit 10 billion total file downloads. That's a one and ten zeroes.

It's a staggering amount, but even more surprising—at least to me—is the relatively small pool of mods and modders it's drawn from. "These 10,000,000,000 downloads are spread across 539,682 mod files," reads the announcement from Nexus Mods, "created by a vibrant community of 128,361 mod authors, serving over 47 million total members, modding 2,683 different games."

In fact, a quick glance at the Nexus Mods homepage tells us that over half of those mods are just for Bethesda games: Skyrim's Special and regular editions, Fallouts 3 through 4 (including New Vegas), plus Oblivion and Morrowind, which possess around 275,700 between them (though admittedly, many of regular Skyrim's mods were later duplicated for the Special Edition, so they're not all unique).

An impressive achievement and, of course, a testament to the great open hinterland that is PC gaming and its mod scene. To mark the occasion and to put in perspective just how many downloads it's reached, Nexus did some dangerous and experimental maths to the number 10 billion. "If every download were a footstep, you could walk to the Moon 11 times," reads the news post, "or walk The Seven Thousand Steps to High Hrothgar 4,161,464 times." Or how about this: If each download took one second, it'd be 317 years before they were all done.

The post continues, "If we celebrated every download with a slice of pizza, this pizza would cover 15 times the size of Manhattan Island." I'm sceptical of that one, as "a slice of pizza" is not an absolute measurement. What if my 10 billion slices of pizza were the size of a horse? Or if they were a nanoangstrom thick? Questionable science, if you ask me.

Nexus also points out some slightly less frivolous stats, saying it has given just over $7 million to its myriad mod authors via its donation points system, and that it's currently paying out over $300,000 per month in donations to mod authors. I'd be very curious to see those numbers broken down further: I'm sure that the vast majority of mods on the site have some trifling number of downloads and barely get any attention, so I'd imagine the payouts are concentrated among a relatively small number.

Alas, that data will have to wait for another post. Nexus says that, as it gets started on its next 10 billion, it's working on its Nexus Mods App—a new version of its mod manager, which makes sense as I'm not sure anyone ever stopped using Mod Organiser 2 in favour of Nexus' current Vortex manager—and that it's got a "significant investment in scaling and developing our services and website" brewing. Well, here's to sticking Thomas the Tank Engine into every new game within a few days, and 10 billion more.