I think that the developers are really on the ball here. We each have our own projects in mind, but they need to focus like an eff’in laser to prove their technology is anything more than a tech demo. If they make a good game and show a profit stream then they’ll get a lot more return for their engine licenses than if they put it out now. They’ll also get tons of big boys knocking on their door, maybe even a buy out. Eventually, hopefully, small teams like us will get trickle down love.
On the topic, Unity does a decent profit with it’s asset store. I really love how independent artists & developers are given a chance to profit by selling their custom assets on Unity’s store. If you guys do decide to release a modder’s toolset to small teams, I think that duplicating Unity’s asset store could be a boon, allowing you to cash in while profit sharing with your community. DOTA 2 and other F2Ps do something similar, where community artists get their stuff uploaded to the engine for purchase. It’s a proven model and it allows the indie guys with limited funds the ability to focus on making games, not assets.
For example: when I found a free running motion script on Unity’s asset store for $40 I just about passed out. Think about it, if I wanted to develop that on my own I’d have to have a huge studio with motion cap, an actor, and a full time software engineer with a powerful software package. Reinventing the wheel over and over and over again is stupid as hell. Profit, asset, and engine sharing is the “new” alternative business model for gaming. In fact, Microsoft’s Project Spark (which I’m currently beta testing) is centered around the concept.