Valve Considers Putting a Real-World Value on Players

In a recent Develop interview, Valve head honcho Gabe Newell said that his company is looking for new ways to charge customers. One of the more novel payment schemes involves a community member’s popularity. Apparently, if you are a social pariah in the Valve community, it may cost you more money if Newell’s payment idea takes hold. Newell says that the "same price for everyone" model is a "bug."

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

Instead of basing the price on what a product is worth, Newell wants to base it on "what the player is worth."

"Some people, when they join a server, a ton of people will run with them," Newell continued. "Other people, when they join a server, will cause others to leave."

"So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get DotA 2 for free, because of past behavior 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."

Newell went on to say that some users that are an asset to the community are often charged negative costs. In other words, those users pay less because they contribute to the community is some way.

"Their cost for Team Fortress 2 is negative $20,000 per week," he said. "You’re never going to see that in a retail store … It’s people who make hats get paid. People who are really popular play for less, or free."

It’s an interesting idea but – no doubt – there are plenty of downsides to it too. We’ll leave it to you to discuss what those negatives might be.’

Source: The Escapist

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  1. Mr.Tastix says:

    I can understand referral systems: Rewarding a customer for referring a new member to the service, but this idea is just absolutely pathetic.

    Like all things, referral systems can be abused, but abusing them generally punishes the systems developers, not the users themselves. Newell’s proposed idea will punish the users simply by allowing people to get friends to boost their popularity (I can also see business endeavours in being paid to boost somebodies popularity) or downvote somebody they merely share differing opinions with.

    There is no possibility of this happening, it will happen simply because people can’t be trusted. Especially the Valve community. Hell, I can see communities such as 4chan’s /b/ board having a bloody field day with this.

    — Randi Tastix

  2. hellfire7885 says:

    Come on Gabe, I love your company, don’t ruin that with something like this.

    In Team Fortress 2 once I was called some nasty names and harassed during a CTF match because of my chosen icon of all things. In a system like this I could easily see this guy encouraging everyone on his team to downvote me. The system WILL be exploited by trolls and vindictive players.

    Hell, I could see a VERY sharp increase of dummy accounts so people can up vote themselves and do massive downvotes on someone who so much as place a portal wrong.

  3. Maginomicon says:

    I hate this idea. Not because I’m a bad person, but because I’d be an unpopular person. My views on gaming are controversial (in that 99% of the gaming community think I’m nuts), and I don’t want to hear Valve deliver an automated edict saying "you are unpopular, therefore you must pay more".

    You really want to hurt these people? Threaten to take their achievements and save data away. Valve’s probably already allowed to in the TOS. That’ll never happen though because that’s not monitizable.

    Jonathan Williamson

  4. olstar18 says:

    There are problems with this though not the one you mentioned. More along the lines of people giving you bad votes just to be trolls.

  5. Neeneko says:

    This has to be one of the most horrible ideas I have ever heard….

    extroverts and metapeers already get the best of everything and have society built around them….

  6. gamegod25 says:

    Sounds like Mr. Newell snorted a little too much coke after swimming in his money pool.

    But seriously that is a horrible idea for more reasons than I could possible list here. Hopefully someone with sense will keep this from happening.

  7. Shahab says:

    The PR ramifications of that type of system would be pretty bad. I pretty much only play single player games, does that mean I’ll be stuck at full price b/c I’m not out making people like me? I only buy games when they are onsale, I couldn’t afford them anyway. I of course have too many games on Steam to abandon the service but if something like this happened and worked in anyway against me then I could surely stop buying game on Steam.

  8. Nerd42 says:

    I think this is a bad idea. It could easily make people afraid of expressing ideas that could be unpopular- it would be enforcing a rigorous fan-dogma-orthodoxy in online game communities and I think that would be a bad thing.

  9. Bennett Beeny says:

    This is a terrible idea. The one thing I’ve noticed online is that all the REALLY obnoxious players are popular, because they get all their real life friends to boost their online popularity score.

    For example, on Xbox Live, all the real assholes have 5-star ratings. Nice guys tend to have 3-stars. Now if Gabe & Co. can figure out a foolproof way to get team killers etc. banned, I’d be all for that. But I just don’t think it would work. I foresee the douchebags of the world getting the rest of us to look like the jerks.

  10. Grif says:

    Also, Valve is flexible enough to allow for dynamic evolution of the plan. I would think that they can change it to suit the changing needs of the community. I have personally had the great fortune to not run into many douchebags when I’m playing Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam, so I genuinely hope this plan works out and the trolls are kept to a minimum.


    "Power means nothing without honor and pride." My video game review site.

    Atlanta Video Games Examiner for

  11. Vake Xeacons says:

    Sounds good on paper, ya’know? "Charge the trolls more. Maybe then they’ll be nice" But this could really screw all the decent players over when the real bullies figure out how to manipulate the system. All the problems we had in high school come right back out, only ten times worse.

    Sorry Gabe. Doesn’t work that way. Nice try though. Stick to forum moderating and banning bad players.

  12. Samster says:

    How in the hell do you even enforce something like this? It’s basically a popularity contest. And good people aren’t always the popular ones.

    See: 4chan.

  13. Neeneko says:

    The thing is, there are already buisnesses that follow models like this.. it can work and be very profitable.   I agree people would probably try to game the system, but I doubt it would work very well since it would probably be tied to some kind of pyrimid system requiring actual paying new members (in which case the popular person is simply getting a cut of whoever they referred’s cost).  I am guessing the guy is thinking, pie int he sky, something more subtle or integrated, but in the end it is one of the only two models to pull from.

    I could also see such a system going the way of clubs/bars/swinger parties/etc and charge differntly based off sex or other inherent characteristic…. or possibly combine the two.

  14. Alex says:

    Sadly I’m less inclined to think the system would be played for free games and more inclined to think that the jackasses of the web would ruin the whole system for everybody by "downvoting" (or whatever) everyone they see.

    On paper it’s an interesting idea but I don’t think it’s possible for something like that to NOT be exploited.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  15. Grif says:

    Well, you never know until you try, right? We can theorize all we want, but unless they actually give it a shot, there’s no way to know for sure what will happen.

    My personal theory is that people will figure out how to scam the system so they get to play all the free games they want, but that’s just me.

    Then again, some of the world’s greatest creations were built on the most horrible of ideas.


    "Power means nothing without honor and pride." My video game review site.

    Atlanta Video Games Examiner for

  16. Zerodash says:

    There are so many potential problems with this idea it could literally fill a book.  Even if there were any real merit to such a model, the logistics involved in determining the "worth" of a given customer could very well negate any fiscal benefit.

    If you really want to cut down on trolls, then make it so they can more easily be kicked out of MP games or the forums.  

    BTW, the Steam community is chock full of assholes- perhaps Valve could stand to make huge piles of money with this model. 

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