Valve’s Novel Idea: Charge Popular People Less

Valve’s Novel Idea: Charge Popular People Less

In an interview with Develop, Valve boss Gabe Newell says that his company is more interested in “looking into what Valve can do with payment services than engine services”. What that means is some crazy ideas on how to take your money.

“The industry has this broken model, which is one price for everyone”, he says. “That’s actually a bug, and it’s something that we want to solve through our philosophy of how we create entertainment products.”

“What you really want to do is create the optimal pricing service for each customer and see what’s best for them. We need to give customers, all of them, a robust set of options regarding how they pay for their content.”

Now, this is where it gets a little nutty.

“An example is – and this is something as an industry we should be doing better – is charging customers based on how much fun they are to play with. Some people, when they join a server, a ton of people will run with them. Other people, when they join a server, will cause others to leave. We should have a way of capturing that. We should have a way of rewarding the people who are good for our community.

So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get Dota 2 for free, because of past behaviour in Team Fortress 2. Now, a real jerk that annoys everyone, they can still play, but a game is full price and they have to pay an extra hundred dollars if they want voice.”

You know, Valve being Valve and this being 2011, I honestly can’t tell if he’s joking or not.

Gabe Newell on Valve [Develop]


  • Its a fresh way of analyzing the market, and in a world full of trolls this is the sort of treatment that will snap a lot of pre pube idiots out of their “king dick” mentality.

    Want to get a kick out of trolling?
    Cool, just be aware that you will pay the full price.

  • This was talked about in an interview (steamcast maybe?) a while back…
    Cool ideas… keep pushing the envelope Valve.

  • I think this sounds progressive and smart. 10 years ago, the idea of buying an online copy of a game and not having any packaging was an affront to some people.

    If someone is fun to play and builds the customer base, why not charge them less? You still make more money from the larger user base that comes with a more robust community.

    Nice one, Gabe!

  • How on earth would they measure this? Have valve employees joining every possible server of every possible multi-player game in order to find the more ‘favourable’ people? What would you have to do to be ‘favourable’ anyway? It boggles the mind.

    It might be possible on cover-all services like PSN or XBL, but on the PC and with dedicated servers which have thousands more players playing on a thousands of different servers, it’s next to impossible

  • I like the “good rating = free/cheap games” 🙂

    I would love to see valve address the regional pricing 1st 😉

  • “So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get Dota 2 for free, because of past behaviour in Team Fortress 2”

    Soooo if I don’t play TF2 but want to buy Dota 2 I should pay more than first person shooter players? How are the two communities at all related? What about the freaking decade I spent playing the original dota as a perfectly nice player… I would have thought that entitles me to a cheaper dota 2 far more than a bunch of people who play First person Shooters. (Not that I think I’m entitled to that at all).

    There’s so much wrong with this concept I could almost write and essay and email to Gabe… hmmmm

  • I thought I was done with popularity contests when I left high school ten years ago? So now if I want a fair price I have to somehow make myself popular?
    Get real Valve.

  • It seems like a logistical nightmare to figure that one out. I have no idea how you would go about determining who should be priced what. Not to mention groups of trolls that play together.

  • It’s Valve, guys.

    Whenever they come up with a crazy idea they make it work. They always find a way.

  • People, people please! They have already been doing this for years.

    Apparently Australians are dicks.

  • I doubt they will be able to monitor every single sever, and every single person. Some people are going to be treated unfairly, this is a good idea in theory but I doubt it will come to fruition.

  • Problem is that many good gamers are hated. I guess it’s not so much of a problem in TF2 but in other games like CoD where you have a one man army or BFBC2 where you have one team that’s just pwning everyone, people will leave. I’m not one to follow a person into another server either unless they’re one of my friends and I’m sure that’s the case with most other people. Also, people like me who don’t actively partake in conversation in games and just play the game are bound to fade into the background. I really don’t think you will find a system where you can properly gauge something like that.

    Besides, never give an internet person an opportunity to extend his or her e-penis or many will do whatever it takes to grow it.

  • I see potential trouble with this. People could play pranks on their friends/enemies by leaving en masse when the target joins a server. They could slander the target. What if the person joined just as there was a map change to something less desirable? Players who don’t like the next map could be mistaken for players who don’t like the guy who’s just connected. There a ton of ways this dumb system could be broken. Real half-assed thinking there, Valve.

  • I think the idea of someone being forced to change their behaviour for the sake of Valve’s business model is more frightening than the prepubescent pseudo-trolls.

    I’d rather deal with idiots and foul language than ludicrious forms of control.

  • Hm, I’m not sure about this idea. I can see where he’s coming from, but…

    Someone like me who doesn’t play online very often (but is a nice enough person when they do) wouldn’t get any of the benefits of this.
    Knowing that I’m getting charged more to buy-into the game than someone who plays online all the time would probably discourage me from buying in the first place. 😛

    Still, if they can get it to work, it might be a good idea.

  • they should charge based on how many titles a person owns… bigger discounts for bigger collections…

    i’d prob get about an 80% discount based on my steam collection…. rofl

  • For those wondering how they would implement such thing.. I think they would develop a steam feature similar to the one on xbox live, where you can either mark the person as favourite or rate them down. Problem is, as some of you above mentioned, it would most likely get abused by the immature 12 year olds because you owned them in a game of CSS…

  • I think hes been trolled a few too many times and wants to get back at all the haters/trolls out there. Get over it, it’s what internet anonymity does.

  • every person who hates this idea is obviously one of the reasons valve wants to implement this idea

  • This is really interesting… I will have to think a lot about it before I actually form an opinion.

    But to the nay-sayers, Amazon can do it for books, I’m sure Steam can do it for people.

  • Now on the surface this sounds like a reasonably good idea (assuming its more than an offhand example).

    The problem is that as soon as you implement that you effectively brand single player gamers as bad to play with, in an oblique way its fair since you can’t play with them but why should they be excluded from the reward system because they don’t like a certain game mode? If the reward was something FOR multiplayer like a unique weapon or a discount on a multiplayer only game then sure but for an across the board reward its a rather poor idea.

  • man I wish they could do this on the 360 haha. But I think Microsoft actually makes money on the troll d.cks

  • Great, turn gaming into a ‘popularity contest’…
    Is this guy for real??

    As others have said, such a system would invite all kinds of abuse by the cretins in internet land no matter how its framed.

    I can see why they are trying to think of innovative ways of getting rid of creeps, but this isnt the answer..

    I may be ‘unpopular’ for reasons other than being an asshole, so why should I have to pay more for my games??

    Utter bollocks…

  • Does it work the other way? Say I don’t want voice, or online multi. Is there the option to pay 1/3 of full price?
    Won’t happen, but nice way to generate publicity

  • Interesting idea; it basically lowers prices for players that generate positive externalities via multiplayer.

    Problem; what about non-multiplayer gamers?

  • Is it April 1st?

    Great idea that is unworkable in a real world setting. What if you don’t play multiplayer games? What’s to stop people making multiple accounts and gifting your ‘troll’ account from your ‘nice’ account? Why are they dropping acid at Valve when they should be working on Ep3?

    For this plan to work would require RFID chipping to track users. Ah-ha! That’s Gabe’s ultimate plan!

  • I don’t think this idea should be taken literally, but it’s an interesting concept! This is why I love VALVe.

  • If its player controlled ie based on a thumbs up/down sort of system. It’s going to get abused to no end. People going around “trading ups” kinda like girls used to do on myspace “pc for pc”. Or others just gang voting down people just because one person didn’t like something they did, eg a cheap move in a game.

    The idea is great, just needs to be done fairly and properly. Would be amazing if they implemented it correctly.

  • Its also really interesting to see how everyone is suddenly saying “I’ll have to pay more for the game.” You’re not paying more, you’re paying the same as you are now. It’s like complaining that you have to pay more for a plane ticket than a frequent flyer who participates in the reward system if you don’t also participate. Like frequent flyers, the socially popular gamers are worth money to the developers in that they keep more other players playing for longer.

  • slaps forehead~

    come on guys, This is no different from giving volunteers free tickets to an event… or free entry to hot girls at a club.

    If a person is helping your game be better or attracting more to buy your game in which makes you more money. Shouldn’t they be rewarded?

  • Yeah sorry this is a bizarre idea, so bizarre you’d think it was hatched by the Australian Government rather than a respected and well liked company.

    Look at the beating Valve already gets in the blogosphere for the discriminatory regionalised pricing models, people do not like paying for something and then finding out somebody got it for cheaper from the same place!

    And for reasons that boil down to whoever is most popular, well it just goes against the whole historical ethos of gaming.

    Also how do they even determine if a Steam user is popular (other than the size of their Friends list I guess)

    Ironically M$ of all companies is better placed to do something like this because they include a function to rate the people you play online with.

  • Something of the sorts was done awhile ago with world of goo on some service (can’t remember which) where you could pay from 1cent to any large amount of money based on how much you wanted to pay. I don’t know how beneficial this was but I thought it was a interesting way to sell content.

  • While it sounds like a cool idea, I don’t think it works out to well. To me it seems to be better off for those who have massive friends lists. You’d seem to get a bonus for joining a server and then having anyone on your friends list joining the server, and the same for your friends.

    Some people don’t have or want massive friends lists but are fun to play with. They may just join the same server regularly and play with the same people, but not have them on their lists. I just don’t see how it can work.

  • Dibs on being the first to sue them for discrimination. And what about people with Autism and ADD/ADHD, and other such medical disorders, people with legit reasons to perhaps not be so popular?

    This idea is a lawsuit waiting to happen

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