Business Models

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
dota 2, experiments, gabe newell, pricing, trolls


Valve Tries To Charge People Based On How Likable They Are: Trolls Pay Full Price

from the perhaps-we-should-try-that dept

We've talked plenty of times about unique business models and experiments by Valve Software. it's latest experiment sounds particularly interesting, if perhaps difficult to pull off well. It appears that the company wants to try to charge jerks more -- but let likable people play free (story found via Slashdot). The specifics are a bit vague, but the plan is for the game DOTA 2. Valve's Gabe Newell has hinted at this:
"The issue that we're struggling with quite a bit is something I've kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people's contributions to a community?” he said, reflecting on a discussion he had with Develop last year.

Last year Newell told Develop that “the games 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".


“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.

“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.”
And the latest news is that they are going beyond this crazy idea into seeing what's actually possible:
“We're trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else [are] recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they're playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they're playing we would [rather] be on the other side of the planet.

"It's just a question of coming up with mechanisms that recognize and reward people who are doing things that are valuable to other groups of people."
I'm curious as to how exactly this would work. I think there are lots of community-based properties would love to be able to charge trolls more. However, this could be really, really difficult to work in practice, and create some problems, depending on what the overall goals are. It would be nice, of course, if you could come up with a perfect system to get rid of trolls, but distinguishing true trolls can often be much more difficult in practice than in theory.

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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 23 Apr 2012 @ 9:21pm

    You do not charge people more for something just because they are idiots, or less because you somehow 'like' them. That is at best discriminatory practice, at worst criminal (dependant on jurisdiction) and is beset with legal, social and ethical minefields.

    The most simple and best way to deal with behaviour that the community does not want online is in two ways:

    Let the community self-moderate itself the way slashdot does. Allow people to be empowered and get a sense of ownership of what they say and do. If someone becomes problematic the community then flags it.

    This also allows community terms of behaviour and other rules (not to be confused with the Company - customer TOS) to change overtime. Allow democracy to evolve and the community to interact fully with the process of administering a community. Once people understand the problems, dramas, stress, frustrations, and also FUN that moderating can be then they will have a better understanding of why people act as they do online (and in outside life).

    The final step is what the company offers.

    The community flags negative members. For those egregious enough they get the proverbial ban hammer, for the others well they don't receive something that everyone else gets every so often for FREE. Therefore the caveat for receiving free value added items (or whatever) in the game/community is only given to those that actually are a part of the community. This includes all non disruptive members not just those members that are 'liked' but also those that sit on the sidelines, play the game and are happy to just read and sometimes interact on forums. The lurkers if you must call them anything.

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