Business Models

by Mike Masnick


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

Companies:
valve



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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2012 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re:

    You assume this system will rely on player voting. There are other metrics they could use. For instance people effect on server population, a well liked player would grow a TF2 server while a troll may empty one quickly.

    I am not saying any system can not be abused. But not telling people the metrics and not immediately dispensing the rewards can go a long way to preventing people from gaming the system. They will not know how and it will be hard to test methods if the results are delayed.

    Valve has surely thought of the same things you have. Gabe has been mentioning this idea for years so hopefully they finally figured out a good way to implement it.

    "I really have a huge issue about their goal of "charging people based on how much fun they are to play with". I'm nice, but not the most interesting person you'll find. I'm not a jerk, but I don't often go out of my way to help others either. So that means I should pay more to enjoy a game? WOW!"

    No you would pay the normal amount that everyone pays. Players that have a positive effect on the community are rewarded. Players with a negative effect are discouraged. Everyone else is just a normal player. It's not a method for punishing normal people.

    Its probably more of a free DLC to keep players with a positive effect in the game longer, giving them a control over a server, or discounts on the next Valve game.

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