was Windowblinds originally created with the intention of having the skins for it free or sold seperately.
As has been stated previously by Brad, the site does not run itself. It takes people and money. I imagine with the size it has grown to and with all it has to offer, subscription fees do not cover the entire cost. The impression I always had was that Wincustomize was really about the community and could easily cut the community out and go completely commercial.
Masters and anyone else who can are going to sell their skins if given the oppurtunity. There are ohter sites, some run by Masters, that already do. Wincustomize is the best place to do it for them, higher visibility and all. They deserve the chance to profit for their hard work. Not everyone could make a skin that could or would sell.
Then we have their skin site spun off and being offered as a subscription service to get rid of commonplace internet adds and maybe one or 2 select "premium" skins.
There have been 10 skins this year that subscribers could download. Not to mention the discount subscribers get on Master skins.
Everytime I see a new Master Skinner, I lament the loss to the community as a whole. Stardock (or is it Wincustomize) has taken this artist away from the general public and put them with a small group of skinners to cater to a minute customer base. It may sound fine and dandy to split $4.99 with Stardock per download, but the product exposure has just been reduced by a few factors of 10.
Masters can still make free skins. It benefits them to as well as everyone else. As to who they 'cater' to...they make skins they hope will appeal to all. Some Masters offer the skins on this site and their own, so the base isn't that small. I am not sure what you mean by reduced exposure. Folks still post screenshots across multiple sites for others to get a glimpse. (Free advertising, really) If anything, it had made Wincustomize 'exclusive' as the site to come to for the best in skinning. Kind of like having to go to AT&T for an iPhone, but you've heard of them, right?
before you were a master skinner, I bet you loved to look at your skin downloads. Pride in knowing how many people liked your work. How many of you are getting anywhere near that amount of downloads with your premium skins? I know it may put a couple of dollars in you and Stardock's wallet, but there are a lot fewer people seeing your work.
Could this be a cause of our shrinking community?
I'm not a Master, but there must be a different kind of gratification when selling the skins. I have seen skins that were just awful, even downloaded a few, that had no bussiness being uploaded to begin with. The number of downloads for them will often be go into the hundreds or thousands. If people were paying for them, they would be freaking out. Being a Master, you have the satisfaction of knowing your work is good enough that someone 'would' pay for it. When you download a Master skin, you know you are getting quality work. When I played guitar on streetcorners for the fun and love of it, I didn't make money. When clubs started paying me to play and took me off the corners, the crowds were smaller, but there was the satisfaction that I had reached a level of professionalism and quality that I could get paid for it. When I want to do it just for the love of it, I go hit the corners again.