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Valve's Newell: One-Price-For-Everyone Business Model 'Broken'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the more-expensive-for-jerks dept.

Businesses 374

Fysx writes with recent comments from Valve co-founder Gabe Newell about how he thinks the traditional video game business model is flawed: "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. 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. 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."

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What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149184)

Steam is usually the gaming conglomerate that's most often mentioned on /. . (I only bother to play the free games in the Ubuntu repository.)

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149210)

Valve is the corporation's name. Steam is the name of their distribution network.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149256)

Nigger is the name of uneducated ghetto black people everywhere. The kind that hate your fucking guts just cuz you're white so no sense in defending them, they will not appreciate it.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149406)

Uneducated ghetto black people are niggers, but not all niggers are uneducated ghetto black people. Nigger != black. There are plenty of white niggers.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (2)

mattva01 (1122529) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149212)

Steam is the program/service used for a large portion of digital distribution of games on Windows, and now Mac OSX. Valve Software's major claim to fame before creating Steam is the Half - Life series of video games, which broke a lot of new ground in the FPS genre. Gabe Newell is the founder of Valve, and comes from an old school Microsoft background, having been one of the primary coders on early versions of Windows.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149306)

Gabe is old-school Microsoft, but his role in early versions of Windows was not as a developer. He was testing and eventually changed to program management.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (4, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149410)

Testing the cafeteria, maybe. What I'm trying to say is: Gabe is fat.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (1)

mattva01 (1122529) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149558)

Yeah, you are correct, I mixed up two anecdotes that involved him during the the early Windows days.

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (-1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149226)

Steam is a great service. I've bought over 200+ games with it and completely stopped buying games from brick and mortar stores. A lot of them are from sales, and now they're introducing one new sale every day too.

Speaking of which, just last night I spotted a really fun game on Steam - Terraria [steampowered.com] . I love games where you can build, dig and explore. If you have to compare, it kind of reminds of Minecraft, but is still different and has a lot more features. The multiplayer works great too and you can have teams. It's great fun when both teams build a castle and start attacking the other one, even making secret tunnels to get there unnoticed, and there's tons of weapons and other fun stuff in the game. YouTube has a cool video series on the game [youtube.com] .

Re:What's the difference between Valve and Steam? (-1, Troll)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149846)

Seriously fuck Steam and Valve. Their anti cheat systems are a fucking joke. Of course the internet has a generation of cunts that think cheating is clever that support this kind of bullshit. Nothing like shelling out good money for a game to find out that it was hacked before it was even released.

check out www.callofdutyhacks.com This place seriously pisses me off. Call of Duty: Black Ops, hacked all to hell. After this fucked up deal of Black Ops, I will never buy shit from Steam or Valve ever again.

| Dream (0)

DaleHarris (1328785) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149194)

This sounds like total crap. If I "make friends" with more people, then I'll be charged less a month? Then some 13 year old will figure out a way to make a buck off a guide called "Geek to Everyone's Friend in 7 days" which will make him very popular with his other geek friends, and change the face of gaming as we know it.

Re:| Dream (4, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149228)

One zit-faced 13 year old gets to play for free, and that will "change the face of gaming as we know it?"

Re:| Dream (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149390)

Yes, because the object of the game will cease to be capturing the dragons or whatever, and become trying to get the cheapest price/most cash refunded. This will usually involve doing things that aren't particularly useful to others but which it is possible to fool the system into thinking you are a 'fun guy to play with'.

This is basically what happened on /. with karma- for some people the object stopped being an interesting conversation and became karma whoring to increase their score.

Re:| Dream (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149738)

So tempted to reply 'lol, linux rules', but will do so anonymously.

Re:| Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149242)

I don't think he necessarily means people "making friends", but I think he means eliminating griefers, spawn campers, etc by charging them more for online play access, where as people who are community leaders or recognized as good team players could be charged less.
    Not sure what games Valve would apply this in though, since their main online games are free to play online as long as someone is running a server.
Also, this would be almost impossible to enforce in an objective manner

Re:| Dream (3, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149400)

Yeah, it's a wonderful pipe dream. An MMO where the worst scum of the playerbase get charged extra until they shape up or screw off would be a beautiful idea.

Pity it'll never happen. Any system can be gamed and any person you might want to penalize is the sort of person who will figure out how to game it. Unless you can code the game to recognize and punish bad player behaviour without introducing loopholes, and I don't see that as terribly likely.

Though you could introduce a "swear jar" feature easily enough, whereby using certain words in general chat on most servers would net you a fine, Demolition Man style. At a minimum, making the scumbags pay out the nose for yelling the word "fag" like Fred Phelps with Tourette's syndrome would be a thing of beauty. And perhaps a teabaggers fee for the FPS genre.

Re:| Dream (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149464)

Also, any system can be exploited. If done wrong, you will find a game/MMO where the griefers get free monthly costs, while anyone who isn't in the clique gets penalized as undesirable.

A system of assigning who is friend versus troll really only would work if it was manually done with one of the game employees doing the flagging as good versus troll. Even this can be abused.

If it were up to me, I'd see about notable community members getting a discount (or if they are good enough, such as one person on Everquest 2 Test who is the backbone of the server when it comes to tradeskills), hand them a permanent free sub because of their dedication. I wouldn't put in an automated mechanism just because people will find how it works and abuse it.

Re:| Dream (4, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149506)

Also, any system can be exploited. If done wrong, you will find a game/MMO where the griefers get free monthly costs, while anyone who isn't in the clique gets penalized as undesirable.

More evidence for my belief that all gaming threads degenerate into discussing EVE Online.

Re:| Dream (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149656)

No, just no. If you don't like someones behavior don't play with them, forcing others to conform to your own values and censoring speech is what you're interested in. Not that this will ever work, Newell needs to get the fuck out of his ivory tower and focus on making games again, I enjoyed Half-Life 2 far more than Gabe speaking at end about what he thinks is wrong with gaming.

Re:| Dream (0)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149254)

Just like in real life you benefit from having friends. Ultimately it should be the same for games, especially since companies make good amount of money when players get their friends to join them or make the gaming experience great for others. On the other hand if you're an asshole in the game you ruin it for others and lose revenue for the company. It only makes sense for the developer to give bonuses for making the experience better for everyone.

Re:| Dream (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149570)

The problem is defining who is an asshole in terms a machine can understand and react to.

A heuristic system might work:

Points rack up if someone uses choice phrases (and variations of those replacing characters.)

Points rack up for bad syntax.

The game detects a lot of kills by someone near a spawn point (racking up points slowly, but surely)


The question is making this stuff work. Do points decay over time, or stay permanent, so after a while, after so many curse words, someone's account goes to the next tier of charges?

Of course, there is the civil liability of branded a griefer by the higher bill. Can a game company deal with a high-power law firm making a class-action libel case stating that the higher tier means someone is known as an asshole, thus causing reputation damage? I'm sure some law firm out there would be readying a motion of discovery in order to find something juicy along these lines.

If I were running a MMO, I'd concern myself with other things. Griefers can be handled by account suspensions, tarpits (if someone is spamming chat, each message is delayed longer and longer by the server. If someone is sending the same message, or similar except with a random value via /tells to people not guilded/grouped, their /tells start taking longer to be received, and the user eventually gets disconnected), and the usual MMO methods. I wouldn't bother paying for the devs to have a tiered payment mechanism. Instead, I'd have the GMs manually recognize the top notch players and give them free play.

Re:| Dream (4, Insightful)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149666)

The problem is that the difference is largely not in the actual words that are being said. Good friends gaming often talk to each other in a way that would greatly piss them off if a stranger did.

Re:| Dream (1)

MischaNix (2163648) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149310)

It's very possible to define heuristics that create a rewards system for which the only way to game it would be to actually be nice to people. It's also equitable to do so. Don't be so skeptical.

Re:| Dream (1)

Gastrobot (998966) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149374)

This. The problem here is that the suggestion should not be expected to simply attract people who make the game more enjoyable, but rather the expected effect is that people try to become that more enjoyable person. The pricing algorithm actually changes people's behavior. You could end up with a lot of fairly shallow people.

At the risk of starting a videogames are/aren't the reason for social ills thread I'll say that the reward given for this shallowness could potentially be carried beyond the game and what started as an idea to pull in a fun community could damage the community in the game and society outside of the game. I doubt that the learned behavior of forced friendliness will be easily turned off in a real world setting. In some ways we do well at compartmentalizing things but I think that our social behaviors can't be easily isolated in the absence of a force that pressures them to be. For example, if I'm in the military I will learn to modify how I interact socially because there are consequences to not doing so. In this case there is a reward for being friendly, whether sincerely or artificially, in the game and no pressure in real life to turn that off.

I'm not a psychologist and the above is off the top of my head, but I think that it may be a good theory.

Re:| Dream (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149430)

I wonder how this will affect all my single player games. Treat the NPCs well, and I get a discoount?

Valve would do well to remember that while the online games can be cash cows, they are also more risky and carry a much larger operating expense. It's the single player games that provide the slow secure income that allows you to do the social gaming. Reward those users, because they won't require additional expenses on your part after buying their games, and won't fill up your tech support with questions on port forwardings and complaints about latency.

Re:| Dream (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149578)

It's the single player games that provide the slow secure income that allows you to do the social gaming. Reward those users, because they won't require additional expenses on your part after buying their games, and won't fill up your tech support with questions on port forwardings and complaints about latency.

They also don't pay anything after making their purchase. To be totally honest I don't think single player games have much of a future at the moment, except maybe as a hobbyist pastime. Which is a terrible pity.

Re:| Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149534)

I think they are looking at something like WOW, where guild leaders spend a lot of time building the team and organizing group play... Think of this as rewarding people that put a lot of their own effort to make the game fun for everybody else. In the case of WOW, they give those people betas so they can plan their teams early... Why not toss in the game for lower cost in some cases?

This is the same in the music industry.. With the warning that too many people get used to free stuff.. That's where most of the leaks come from now... But with steam tied to every gamer piracy is more difficult so freebies are more easily managed.

What about inequality! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149204)

This seems pretty flawed itself because it basically punishes players for having greater skill. The main reason people leave a server on a source game is because the battle seems impossible. This is the worst idea I've ever heard, and it will turn away some of the best players. Inequality is important, it gives newer players something to aspire toward.

Re:What about inequality! (0)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149274)

With Left4Dead the whole team is playing better if every player plays better. This model could, for example, reward those who are playing a good team game and making the game fun for others too. Since Left4Dead "director" can dynamically change the difficulty level based on how good everyone plays there wont be a problem with too easy games either.

Re:What about inequality! (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149424)

In versus mode, AI director only runs once: and that's for the first team, the second team gets exactly what the first team got.

Do like car insurance companies (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149208)

Tell people how low your price can possibly go, but have a plan to charge many times that amount. Good players can receive countless discounts, trolls and griefers would be well advised to take their bile elsewhere if they want to continue qualifying for said discounts.

I think insurance companies suck, by the way.

Re:Do like car insurance companies (1)

hajus (990255) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149232)

The lowest price would be free and they _give_ you in game perks.

oh no (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149230)

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.

In other words, now, instead of having a bunch of friends harass you because they want to build a bigger farm, your friends will actually get monetary recompense for harassing you. Looks like I'll have to unfriend even more 'friends'

No. (1, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149234)

That's a nice idea.

However, it's a business. It has shareholders. It's objective is not to achieve the optimal price for the players--the optimal price for the players is that which maximizes the ratio between enjoyability and cost. The optimal price for the business is that which maximizes profit. (I suppose the present value of all future profit.)

Players who are fun to play with generate revenue for the business by making it more fun to play, and that can be captured. And it may be that optimizing community relations has some value to the corporation as well--paying good players might be a marketing expenditure.

Generally, the idea is to charge based on the amount someone is willing to pay, and not sell to people who can't at least meet the costs of maintaining the system unless the cost can be born by advertisers. The question is how to determine what people are willing to pay.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149302)

Generally, that's an accurate assessment of this type of situation.
Valve, though, is privately owned. No stockholders besides Gabe himself to answer to. The cynic in me wants to agree with you, that nobody is genuinely without greed in the free market. However, thus far the track record is in Valve's favor. They seem to actually do what it is that makes for great experiences. Is it sustainable in the long run? Maybe. They seem to be making plenty on Steam, and so long as they keep it private it should stay that way.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149420)

To paraphrase Lord Vetinari (written by Terry Pratchett)..."the purpose of business is to extract the maximum amount of milk with the minimum amount of moo."

Re:No. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149590)

"The question is how to determine what people are willing to pay."

I guess by that measure, whatever amount it takes to keep the worst of the worst from playing.

Re:No. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149718)

The "optimal price" for players is the price they're willing to pay. Due to the existence of piracy and such, it is in the interests of businesses to find that optimal price, lest they lose customers.

(note: I'm not condoning piracy; but this is a simple reality of the world that we live in)

Rich customers should pay more. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149248)

I completely agree that customers who buy a lot of games and who are clearly of the higher income bracket should pay a bit more for games and entertainment. I would support this idea, as it would probably cut down on piracy. Most of us don't mind paying something, but if we are college students or struggling to find a job we simply cannot afford $50-60 a game.

Re:Rich customers should pay more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149288)

They should pay more taxes too so the money can be given to me while I am unemployed and playing video games all day :)

Or (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149314)

The money can be given to you via a government jobs program. Build a bridge and then spend the money on games in the evening.

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149434)

Nowadays, "government jobs program" sounds like he's pulling one over on someone if he's making enough for a game. Anything short of being paid sub-minimum wage on a contract basis for undergoing medical experimentation or other things valuable to the shareholders and other early resource adopters is socialist -- in the Network News sense.

Re:Rich customers should pay more. (2)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149460)

I completely agree that customers who buy a lot of games and who are clearly of the higher income bracket should pay a bit more for games and entertainment

From each according to his "has", to each according to his "wants" huh?

but if we are college students or struggling to find a job we simply cannot afford $50-60 a game.

Then you go without

Re:Rich customers should pay more. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149470)

Most of us don't mind paying something, but if we are college students or struggling to find a job we simply cannot afford $50-60 a game.

One could argue that if you're a college student or struggling to find a job, perhaps you shouldn't spend your time playing games, but on studying or, you know, finding a job.

The price should be set exactly as high as the market will bear -- high enough to maximize profits without driving away customer from coming back to buy more.

Re:Rich customers should pay more. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149490)

Class warfare always sells. Probably because half the population has a below average IQ...

Re:Rich customers should pay more. (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149860)

Speaking as a college student: if you have time to spend a few hours on entertainment, you have time to work. If you can't afford the game, perhaps you should consider a part-time job.

Copyright and DRM are a bug. (3, Insightful)

MusedFable (1640361) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149250)

Trying to make money from something that isn't scarce is silly. Charge for the scarce goods not the stuff you can easily copy. The very first copy is scarce. Support is scarce. Commissioning people with talent is scarce.

Re:Copyright and DRM are a bug. (4, Insightful)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149414)

They are TRYING to charge you for their time and talent, which is not scarce. As a bonus, you get a game. The way they do this, is by attatching an arbitrary value to what they CAN GIVE YOU - a game - but you are actually paying for the time and talent it took to create that game, not the copy of the game. Same with music, same with books, etc., etc.. If you can come up with a business model that lets people give out something that is infinitely reproduceable - AFTER it is produced, and get paid for the non-scarce talent/time investment... well, I'd like to hear it. I'm not convinced the current model is overly broken, merely that the the value of the public domain is undervalued in the current regulatory regime, and that many people don't look beyond the thing they can acquire to see if something pre-final product was actually scarce.

Same old bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149262)

Every couple of years some idiot comes up with this same old tired idea. Once in a while they actually get people to try it. Then it fails horribly and they wonder how it ever could have happened. In truth, it's very simple; it boils down to two things: 1) people don't want to think about their costs. 2) Any complex system can be cheated. That's it. You create a system where people pay based on how popular they are, and what happens? Most of your customers refuse to deal with irregular costs and leave. Most of the ones who don't leave create a bunch of fake accounts, all of whom are making the others popular. Any remaining legitimate customers eventually realize they're being screwed, and join the first group. Your company fails. The end.

Re:Same old bullshit (2)

cduffy (652) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149368)

If those fake accounts need to spend real money (buy in at retail price) to count, that's not such a likely scenario.

Re:Same old bullshit (0)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149512)

The fake accounts can always use bogus credit cards. Yes, it seems like money coming in, but a lot of that will be yanked back out when charge-backs start occurring, or people wonder why they got double-billed.

One reason why gold spammers on MMOs are common is that when people hand the sleazier ones their credit cards, the cards are charged multiple times, usually to provide 1-2 extra accounts ready for botting. Now multiply that by how many people on a MMO pay for gold. It is easy to understand that even though a MMO company may swing the banhammer like a lawnmower like in Dead Alive, it doesn't seem to have that much effect.

If a botter decides to make all their bots put in a complaint about someone, most GMs seeing that pop up will almost certainly boot if not suspend the victim's account just to see what is up.

Entitlement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149270)

One issue might be the inevitable sense of entitlement that purchasing chat type services in-game might create. That could open a whole new can of behavioral worms.

Adobe fixed this years ago! MS too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149278)

Adobe charge one price in the US, and 3x to 5x that price outside the US. [grr] crooks [/grr]. One price levels the playing field.
MicroDaft worked the other way - full price USA, and heavily discounted in high-copy-theft countries to try and discourage illegit copies. Cuts both ways I guess.

Fuck no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149280)

They want to turn everything in life into a popularity contest. Do we really want "Girl gamer" types to get their games free, because they giggle over a mic and flirt with desperate nerds?

Re:Fuck no (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149516)


Yes Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149300)

I'm tired and bored and don't want to play with the cheating 16 year olds with their modded game clients anymore thanks.

Newbie penalties (we need to be fair, right?) (1, Insightful)

redstar427 (81679) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149324)

I can see it now, a newbie joins a game server, with 15 other players. They play the current FPS game, but are not very good.
After a couple of hours, they see this message from the game system:
"15 out of 15 other players have rated you as: Loser. That will cost you $30 in penalties. Your credit card has been charged."
Since the other players were rated higher, some of that money goes to lower their game playing costs.

Somehow, one price for all, seems more fair.

Re:Newbie penalties (we need to be fair, right?) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149492)

Huh? This is not at all what Newell was implying.

Re:Newbie penalties (we need to be fair, right?) (2)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149514)

Somehow, one price for all, seems more fair.

Than the system you just described? Obviously. It's easy to design a system that's less fair. The challenge is to design one that's more fair. Just because you aren't up to the challenge doesn't mean it's a bad idea...

Re:Newbie penalties (we need to be fair, right?) (2)

complete loony (663508) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149820)

Having a reputation system that gets you in game/store credit, that you can never lose, could work. eg, help some noob through the training level (ala portal 2) gives you $0.50 credit to your next game / DLC purchase... But charging people for trolling/griefing? Not gonna happen. Charging people based on geographical area? Please no, publishers already suck too much at this.

"Optimal pricing service" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149332)

What a bunch of management wank-speak that is.

Awful (1)

dcl (680528) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149336)

I love Valve, they support their games and reward the gamers in brilliant ways, but this is one of the stupidest ideas I've heard of in a long time.

Re:Awful (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149714)

Depends on how they do it. I'd wager that most gamers would rate other gamers less on their body count and more on, "was that guy a total dick". If it goes this direction I'd see this as a plus because no one likes getting screamed at and told that their entire family should die in a fire 2 seconds after spawning. It would cause player retention to go up as well as getting rid of some pointless intimidation for new players. Hell, I would pay more just to have the jerks weeded out. If I'm wrong and most gamers really do care that much about body count, this is a doomed idea.

That is how Gray Markets are Created. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149340)

Microsoft Sells the Same Product at several price points. So you get copies of "Only to be sold with a new Computer software" floating around. And Student Office at 1/3 the price of Business Office. Even Hardware companies have to fight the importation of products sold cheaper in other counties.
Prescription Drugs, in the U.S. you can drive to Canada and get a lower price.
Every Business want to get the maximum you can afford to pay. Most have to settle for what the market will bear. It is called capitalism.
Otherwise it will just create a new scam where you try to convince them you are in the lower cost group.

Please go back to making games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149342)

It seems to me that Mr. Newell has lost his way similar to MIT engineering graduates that work for Wall Street. We know that it is broken, and we know that you can do it better then them. But I'd rather play better games (i.e., HL3) then play shitty games cheap.

Also known as; DLC (2)

RobDollar (1137885) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149348)

What started as the Team Fortress 2 nonsense store which allowed the purchasing of hats in a first person shooter(!), has progressed to a total overhaul of how Valve sell their products. Portal 2 is now fast becoming the flagship example, with, wiat for it, hats available for purchase, along with little flags and such. DLC (I feel a bit sick every time I say or type that) is the devil that you cant' avoid. If Activision put a human shit in a box and sold it as Call of Duty (or Modern Warfare, whichever they own) material DLC, for let's say £5 / $9, it's guaranteed they would make a profit. Call of Duty: Human Chemical Warfare in a Box.

Pretty much every game you buy now has this so called downloadable content, right from the game's release. There's no relevant analogy here, even the most coherent slashdot analogy wouldn't be able to ascribe to the bizarre concept of selling an entertainment product with parts loped off and sold along side it.
A great example is the add-on content to Railworks 2. A £25 game with £800(sic) of DLC. Have a look if you don't believe me. http://store.steampowered.com/app/24010/ [steampowered.com]

Bottom line, there's a huge amount of money to be made on the DLC market and any game company would be stupid not to dip into that pool. And it's a damned shame.

Re:Also known as; DLC (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149480)

Two points. 1: Valve does DLC properly. Instead of using day one DLC and charging for things that should have been free, they charge for cosmetic things (yes, you can buy weapons in TF2, but you can unlock those through playing as well). Sure the hat thing is silly, but it's let Valve finally get a return for all the free content they've produced for TF2 (4 years worth).

2: Railworks is a sim game for hardcore train fans. It's a niche product, so it's no wonder the DLC costs quite a bit. The developers are going after a very limited number of sales. And it certainly isn't "an entertainment product with parts loped off and sold along side it". If you paid any attention to the New Releases section of Steam, you would have noticed that the DLC in question has been released over a period of years.

If you want to take issue with DLC, go ahead, but at least aim your ire at people who deserve it.

Re:Also known as; DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149606)

Portal 2 had day 1 DLC

just sayin......

Re:Also known as; DLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149794)

"Properly" is the cosmetic DLC in Portal 2 can be unlocked in the console versions but you have to pay for in the PC version?

Re:Also known as; DLC (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149526)

2 points:

1 - You don't actually need to get all the DLC to enjoy the game.
2 - If you included all the DLC with the initial purchase - either the company's profit margin would go down (keep the consumer price constant - could reach the point where the game might be no longer feasible to develop) or the consumer price increases to the point where the audience is no longer interested in paying for it.

To me DLC is almost analogous to a-la carte cable channel selection. In this case I might be interested in the base game + the portland expansion pack (b/c I grew up there) and thats pretty much it. I'm glad I can buy what interests me the most and leave the rest out of it. (And hell I'm glad someone cared enough to add some niche content...)

Re:Also known as; DLC (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149548)

So, no one should ever put more work into a game than the $59.99 initial price warrants? Or are you saying that they make $200 games and then don't "lop parts off" but insist everyone pay $200 up front?

No relevant analogy? Please. A very simple car analogy is right at hand. You seriously believe no one ever buys anything but a base model car, or never pays to have additional features installed after?

Re:Also known as; DLC (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149792)

voltron.. each lion sold separately... He-Man, green tiger sold separately... (insert toy here) "collect them all" ... it isn't new at all.

Re:Also known as; DLC (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149828)

I feel like we are still in the infancy of all of this and many companies are going to make the mistake that some of their previous successes in DLC are "how business is done" and it just becomes another checkbox on the game development list that becomes exploited in a more miserly fashion with each new iteration. Thankfully there have been huge blunders (horse armor) that pointed companies in better directions. So I'm not too worried on that one.

The one thing that does bug me is that DLC seems to be driving some developers, who would have otherwise have taken chances that were as striking and original as their earlier titles, to make luke warm follow-ups and then add DLC (why can't we just call it an expansion pack?) that takes the risks that fans of the original were hoping for in the first place. Granted it is just hedging your bet, but I'm afraid it may drive gameplay back instead of pushing it forward.

Re:Also known as; DLC (0)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149836)

Yeah I'm with you man Valve OWES me that content I'm entitled to what I want for free because I want it and just because these greedy fucks want to make money doesn't mean they deserve it but they should still be forced to invest massive sums of money to entertain me anyway just don't reward them cause I WANT WHAT I WANT FUCK YEAH!

the cable and sat co need ideas like this no big p (-1, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149398)

the cable and sat co need ideas like this no big packs of channels smaller packs with more choice is need and I'm not talking about tiers.

The forced bundling of big channels packs is driving people out of the cable market altogether.

Re:the cable and sat co need ideas like this no bi (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149528)

If my wife didn't watch TV, i'd stop subscribing tommorow, so I hear you loud and clear.

Cable companies could make more money if they could just become repositories for programming on demand for everything. So basically they become one giant PVR - and charge per episode or per season for programming - of course, advertisers would want them to force ads, but if I had enough money to start it up, id offer a full streaming on demand service - one subsidized by on screen ads while you were watching programming and one where you paid to have no ads.

Then if I wanted no ads on a series of programming, for 20 episodes I'd pay like $20.00 for the season, and would have a month to view it. If I wanted to do single episodes, then i'd charge $2 per episode for instance. The thing is, like being in a restaurant - it's all about the selection, and if the selection is good and what people want, they will gladly pay through the nose for it.

Fantasy I know, but I can dream :)

Don't charge me for MP modes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36149476)

This makes no sense until you start breaking down the components of the game. I don't play online multiplayer, so don't charge me for it. But I might be interested in playing, say, the Portal 2 Co-Op modes, so maybe I'll buy it for this game and not for others. Break *that* one-price-for-everyone model down, and I'd be interested.

Hrmmmm, interesting (4, Insightful)

definate (876684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149510)

I initially wrote this off as "oh he's sort of trying to implement perfect price discrimination", which is great in theory, impossible in practice.

But if you ignore his "one price for everyone is a bug" idea, which is fucking stupid. Then supplant it with a, you get micro payments over time, to your account, for playing a lot and being a good player. Then it's just "incentivise people to play nice". That would mean some sort of mechanism of ranking players (based on fun), and giving them targeted discounts based on new games.

This seems fine and dandy... in theory. Once again, how would such a mechanism be implemented? Admin's would suddenly have a lot of power, or other players would, where they could actually do monetary damage to someone. You'd need a dispute resolution system, which is going to cost you overhead. Suddenly you've invented an elaborate system, which might make less profit, and the inventive structure might deter people from getting into these games because "well if I'm not good at it, I might end up paying more for other games I'm more interested in/better at".

At which point, you realize BOTH of these ideas, and likely everything this man has ever said, everything his grandparents ever said, and that his spawn will ever say, is wrong!

Re:Hrmmmm, interesting (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149670)

Micropayments would work well for this, a flat monthly charge would too slow to keep up with the dynamics. If you focus on incentivising good behaviour, not so much punishing bad behaviour, people will work it out for themselves. Mind you someone who plays a lot is actually costing the company more, so bulk discounts are kind of self defeating. So yeah I can't see much use for this idea.

Re:Hrmmmm, interesting (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149886)

Who gets to determine what's "good" and what's "bad" behaviour? The other players? Any chance I could be a spectator for the train wreck?

Could you imagine how many people would consider someone a true friend and wonderful buddy who is too stupid to play a game and lets them pad their kills?

Curses be the socially inept! (4, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149532)

So lemme get this straight, Mister Newell: you wanna charge socially awkward and inept people, like loners and people with Asperger's Syndrome, a premium simply because they don't benefit your Bottom Line above and beyond what they pay for the game? You want to penalize them for being "unpopular"?

Wow, as if they didn't get enough of that mistreatment in high school, now they have to endure it in the marketplace.

Shades of Counterstrike! (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149546)

Specifically, the Hindenberg of an experiment where they coded the costs of weapons and equipment to shift based on their cross-server popularity.

The experiment broke down immediately. Prices skewed so high on some weapons that they were literally unattainable. People coded and loaded servers full of bots to do nothing but buy weapons and further fuck with the algorithm. People figured out how to turn it off and voted with their feet.

The funniest thing about this whole 'give bennies to 'good' players' thing is? When they did it in TF2, with the halo hat for not having hacked or botted one's way through the achievements, wearing the thing just became another tool in the griefer arsenal. Likewise the Mac edition earbuds, and the weapons for pre-ordering RIFT, and anything else of the like that comes down the pipe.

Just think about it: People are getting their undies bunched in droves over a few polygons and some limited special effects. Imagine what they'll do when there's actual money on the line.

Interesting (2)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149588)

Valve does Gods work imho so I would not dismiss this out of turn. He is naturally talking about multiplayer games because in single player games you effectively pay for the content so your entire user experience is crafted by the company using artists etc so in that case you charge what it cost you to make and think up and then some. Now in multiplayer games, the community adds a significant portion of the value to the final product so it could be argued that it makes sense that they be rewarded for adding value to a product (not unlike modders who can sell their maps on the starcraft 2 map store thingie).

In an MMORPG you ARE rewarded for being a better community member when you join groups, raids etc allowing you to unlock better gear and levelup faster. This does not result in monetary gain but most mmo's have some kind of conversion between in game benefits and real world money (not gold farmers, more like purchasable experience scrolls and the like). So in some ways being a better community player already rewards you (at least in theory, by design). Should the base game be cheaper for better community members? I dont think so. Should being a team player/community positive give you in game rewards that are otherwise purchasable with RL cash? Yea that sounds decent.

Its vvvvvvvery interesting he mentions Dota 2 here. First because its good to hear some news about it cos I am waiting on it, and secondly because DotA (the original wc3) has a community that WILL bite your head off the instant you make a mistake in game or say something stupid in people. For some reason DotA brings out the worst in people.

Competing news: (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149622)

Internet's Vectormatic: Gabe Newell's brain broken.

I dont care about online MP these days, but if this even so much as creeps near Valve's single player titles they can fuck off, i like my games single player and without influence from random internet people thank you very much, that includes the price

wat (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149798)

So now, on top of accusation of hacking, people will suspect each other in trying to get freebies from game company by pretending to drag in more customers.

And I thought, atmosphere in some... communities could not get any more poisonous.

So, in a nutshell (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149858)

you will reward those that game the game and punish those that play it.

Because what do you think will happen? Trolls don't play games but they toy with it. Handing them yet another toy to abuse and screw with isn't going to make it better.

Oh Gabe... (1)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36149942)

Gabe, Gabe, Gabe. You love talking about this hypothetical shit, but you somehow can't bring yourself to answer even the smallest questions people ask about Episode 3 (or Half Life 3 if you believe the rumors).

Shut the fuck up and get your developers coding already. You can't end Episode 2 like that and not have a resolution.

Yes I'm pissed off. Maybe irrationally, but this guy's been spouting a lot of crap recently (how games need to be more social, connected to Facebook and so on) that I'm wishing for someone with more traditional views on gaming to gain prominence.

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