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 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Re:

    In the absolute legal sense, no it is not discriminatory, though it is discriminatory in the ethical sense based within the specific community.

    Basically you either have equality for the community endeavour within the community or it will fail. Otherwise those that fall within the middle ground for whatever reason be it financial, time scarce, shyness, etc are also punished in their view, and become disenfranchised with the community because they cannot become "liked" (which in itself is a highly ambiguous definition) thereby removing their perceived ownership within the community and ultimately this will destroy the community.

    Doing the "unliked" and "liked" approach sets up a class based system. Great if you are popular and have the time and/or money to post copious things but useless if you are the 80-90% who basically just want to play the game and interact when and where they want to.

    This is basic group dynamics and for anyone who has ever run, administrated, and/or moderated a large gathering of unique individuals online it is something you try to avoid at all costs. Cliques result in power plays, resentment, and lead to the behaviour you ultimately are trying to prevent.

    Discounts to "good" customers are the same.. WHO DECIDES? What criteria? and basically ALL customers are good unless they are disruptive so either send the discount to all other than the ones the community itself flags or don't send any at all. Oh and no retrospective removals of already given discounts either.

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