Valve co-founder: good gamers should pay less, and vice versa

By on May 17, 2011, 1:00 PM

Gabe Newell is the co-founder and managing director of Valve. He often has something interesting to say, and the recently lengthy interview with Develop is no exception (seriously, it's worth a read).

One of the topics Newell covered jumped out at us: creating the optimal pricing service for each customer. In short, the co-founder says to hell with equality: the industry should charge gamers based on how much fun they are to play with and how they influence the community.

Newell explained that some people bring many gamers with them when they join a server while there are people who join a server and cause other gamers to leave. "We should have a way of capturing that," he says. "We should have a way of rewarding the people who are good for our community." This means that a really likable person in the community should get a game for free, because of their past behavior in a different game, while a jerk that annoys everyone should pay full price for a game, and have to pay an extra hundred dollars if they want voice.

A more extreme example is how some gamers want to pay for a dollar for items over and over again while others want to run servers and create mods. Newell believes each one of these people should represent a different monetization scheme for the community as a whole. He explains that Valve has started finding high value customers and connecting their Steam accounts to their PayPal accounts. These people aren't just paying for games; they're making money from them: some are being paid as much as $20,000 per week.

Valve has a unique opportunity in the gaming industry because it has built a platform. Steam is very popular because it gives gamers a lot of what they want. What do you think about an optimal pricing service?




User Comments: 37

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Guest said:

Although a good idea after releasing a game with 5.5hrs of singleplayer gameplay (portal2) valve is on my crap list.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

I can see rewarding players for brand loyalty, but this is just dumb.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Let me tell you what.... I get called a hacker almost on a daily basis (or whenever I play) while playing Black Ops (PC) online. People don't enjoy getting their arses kicked and jump to any excuse they can find, usually the easiest being "hacker! You just wall-hacked!" Well, playing in Nuke town constantly with spy-planes kinda makes it easy to predict where people are, where they are camping, and where they charge from.

So this would put me in the "unpleasant to play with" category just because people leave thinking I am a hacker. I really hope that this wouldn't reflect on me, making me have to pay more, because that would just be silly. I am usually a pleasant person. I like teamwork, and I like a good challenge. I just hope that if something like this was truly employed, that there would be a way to distinguish the difference.

hitech0101 said:

Well people pretend to be all kind of stuff when they're online so don't let some gamer get to you its just a game.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What, no tinfoil hat privacy nuts screaming "FOUL!" yet? They hated the fact that Steam captured even basic gaming stats from its users - imagine the reaction if it wasn't just hardware and game play time stats, but actual performance and details of player skills or behaviors. It would be pure paranoia-induced anarchy.

Riun355 said:

Eh, while it sounds good, I think the ethics of it would get a bit murky... I could go for getting payed $20k a week, though.

pacostrano said:

trillionsin said:

Let me tell you what.... I get called a hacker almost on a daily basis (or whenever I play) while playing Black Ops (PC) online. People don't enjoy getting their arses kicked and jump to any excuse they can find, usually the easiest being "hacker! You just wall-hacked!" Well, playing in Nuke town constantly with spy-planes kinda makes it easy to predict where people are, where they are camping, and where they charge from.

This is why I play on my clan server we have rules and we have servers that have a bot that banning players like this or not fallowing rules

wcbert said:

What????

They are paying some people $20,000 a week. That is $80,000 a month and around $960,000 for a year. That is almost a million dollars. If you can make $20,000 a week, would you leave you house? Would you go a vacation? You have a life just still on your butt playing games every day and not even know that life has just past you by.

But this type of person is consider to be a high value customer. To me it sounds like a addict, and this addict is to attract more addicts.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm having a little problem too swallowing this as Guest #1 alluded to. Valve just released Portal 2 - which is a 6-9 hour game with almost zero replayability, charges $60 for the pre-order, entices people to buy other games in the hope for an early release of Portal 2 with some bizarre contest, and then an hour into the game they start pumping you to buy meaningless DLC content.

How does all of that fit into his "We should have a way of rewarding the people who are good for our community," statement??

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

How about they worry about putting out bug free games, or put pressure on their partners whose games they sell via Steam to do the same?

As far as I see it when they offer promotions in order to encourage people to pre-order the next buggy game, they're putting their reputation behind it. And I doubt that a few hats make up for the frustration that people feel when their games don't work correctly.

r8bwp said:

I spend too much time on steam for my own good and i don't get 20k sniff

Cota Cota said:

This idea needs to be tweaked a LOT.

-Getting people "skill rank" to put them to play whit people in their rank only?, this will ensure mouth breathers stay cool and that hardcore gamers have a challenge.

-About the not so kind players just let servers ban trolls and flamers (just like they do now), but hell manage those bans i love how i got banned from a BFBC2 server because the Admin liked my shiny grenade.

-The price tweaking idea is just awful :s but yeah if you want to lower prices have my thanks, would be nice to see one of the big ones break the $60 dlls price rule all the companies adopted.

-Playing moders and good players, well those are more likely like "employees", but if you are gonna start paying for playing treat us all the same.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I'd love for there to be a reputation system on WoW. I've played with too many D-bags. Make it so it take many many people to affect the rep and you'll prevent any abuse from individuals. I can see the issue with rating opponents though... they'll hate anyone better than themselves.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I like it.

Guest said:

To those thinking that Valve are paying people to play games, how about you have a look a few months back. The people referred to as being payed $20k/week are getting this because they put in massive amounts of work and developed new content for TF2. Every time their item is sold in the in game store, the original creator gets a slice of the profits. So all they had to do was spend some time creating the content, and now they can sit back and watch the cash roll in, and go on that holiday.

Far from being addicted, you tools.

Rasta211 said:

Maybe they introduce a 2 type pricing system.

1 price is the normal price they charge for a new game like 59.99

another price like $149.99 and you can all downloadable content and future DLC in the game for free.

Then if they want to reward good community players make some type of reputation system in steam were other users can vote/add reputation to a player. Then users can use their reputation to get downloadable content in the game of their choosing. I'll let Valve sort out the rules to this system to prevent abuse.

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

any leeway for members since 2004? still in good standing with VAC

lalaman lalaman said:

trillionsin said:

Let me tell you what.... I get called a hacker almost on a daily basis (or whenever I play) while playing Black Ops (PC) online. People don't enjoy getting their arses kicked and jump to any excuse they can find, usually the easiest being "hacker! You just wall-hacked!" Well, playing in Nuke town constantly with spy-planes kinda makes it easy to predict where people are, where they are camping, and where they charge from.

So this would put me in the "unpleasant to play with" category just because people leave thinking I am a hacker. I really hope that this wouldn't reflect on me, making me have to pay more, because that would just be silly. I am usually a pleasant person. I like teamwork, and I like a good challenge. I just hope that if something like this was truly employed, that there would be a way to distinguish the difference.

haha u know, it's not you that becomes "unpleasant to play with", it's the one's that call you a hacker that become "unpleasant to play with". So you don't have much to worry =P

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Absolutely not. Everyone should be charged the same price. "to hell with equality" Yeah, it's f*cktards like you that are the problem with society. Just my opinion :P

MrAnderson said:

I think this is all very interesting. The extreme I'm sure was a joke regarding paying 100 to have parts of a game functionality. Even if that would be funny to imagine a person that is known to be a jerk be charged a rediculos amount for voice chat... but that might have federally legal implications. But sure charge the base price unless they are on good behavior... or contribute to the community in a possitive way heck yeah!

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sir... your ideas are plain dumb! =)

Guest said:

"Unpleasant" players should have to pay an extra $100 for a game? Hell no, they shouldn't be able to play the game at all. Anyone who is willing to hack, abuse the mic, or engage in any such antisocial behavior serves absolutely zero use to the "community" (or, more broadly, to humanity), and as such shouldn't be able to buy his way in to annoy everyone else. If a relatively reliable way can be found to identify these miscreants, then do away with them altogether.

ramonsterns said:

Bad idea, prime for trolling and abuse.

Flannelwarrior said:

"These people aren't just paying for games; they're making money from them: some are being paid as much as $20,000 per week."

How can I become one of these people? Haha

Jurassic4096 said:

The only Valve game i own and play is L4D2, and those players are the worst of any online game i have ever played. it's rampant with racism, mic spamming, griefers, ragers, people asking if you have a mic in text because they think you need a mic to hear (LMAO), no level system, lobby system/voting is horrible... It's fun when you get none of the above.

Work on that before you start making any deals. The people that are gonna be the "good" guys are gonna be the ones that aren't even good at the game, and just the ones that keep quiet when their teammates start going rogue.

benken2202001 said:

People like free. You give the people free, and they'll do anything you ask.

I'd rather see advertisements during loading screens or put a mountain dew add between songs on one of Liberty City's radio stations. Reduce prices and get people back onto PC gaming. Pushing Portal 2 at people for a rediculous price isn't a good way to keep ur good "name." Sure I'm gonna use Steam still, cause its free. But I'll think twice before paying for Valve again.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think Mr. Newell has been spending a little too much time with Mr. Sheen. If anyone out there is making $20k a month from Steam please stand up and say hi, because otherwise I don't believe it to be true. This wouldn't be the first time Steam lies to its clientèle to try to get more attention.

Guest said:

Seriously...

The author of that diatribe is a child. Steam serves transients & their business model is based on knee-jerk buys from Steams membership.

These developers are utterly ignorant & lost. Bf3 should cost $100 bucks, have root kit and disables the game until u uninstall ur hacks. Then... ud see BF3 being played more, being talked about more, being used as the next platform for tourney play.

Selling off used/old games that "somebody" can now try because of a weekend sale is all kiddie space. Steam simply is not a service needed.for home owners and adults. Provide CHEAT FREE games and provide real tangable discs...

Nearly everyone I know wants their discs.. unless u like to pretend ur a gamer n use a laptop.

Where are the real games... that cost money and provide a professional environement? Azzh0l3s & 1d0its will be locked out of their $100 game and cry to mommy (when they are embarrased and can no longer play the adult game because "all they were doing was only using a sprint hack, not aimbot" ... lol

GOOD PLAYERS don't mind paying $100 on a quality game, specially when only real players r there... not hacktoidz.

Guest said:

I'd pay $150 bucks if I knew no hackers could play BF3... all long-term games like the BF series should be like what you are saying (eula + rootkit etc)

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Guest said:

Seriously...

The author of that diatribe is a child. Steam serves transients & their business model is based on knee-jerk buys from Steams membership.

These developers are utterly ignorant & lost. Bf3 should cost $100 bucks, have root kit and disables the game until u uninstall ur hacks. Then... ud see BF3 being played more, being talked about more, being used as the next platform for tourney play.

Selling off used/old games that "somebody" can now try because of a weekend sale is all kiddie space. Steam simply is not a service needed.for home owners and adults. Provide CHEAT FREE games and provide real tangable discs...

Nearly everyone I know wants their discs.. unless u like to pretend ur a gamer n use a laptop.

Where are the real games... that cost money and provide a professional environement? Azzh0l3s & 1d0its will be locked out of their $100 game and cry to mommy (when they are embarrased and can no longer play the adult game because "all they were doing was only using a sprint hack, not aimbot" ... lol

GOOD PLAYERS don't mind paying $100 on a quality game, specially when only real players r there... not hacktoidz.

Yes because button mashing takes great skill huh? That is all any video game is really..a series of mashed buttons to produce a satisfying outcome. If a "GOOD PLAYER" has any "skills" at all, they would know how to overcome cheaters and not ***** and moan about it. Here is another idea, don't play on servers with people that cheat.

Yes, lets raise the price of games so you can feel better about your game play. Raising the price of the game does not make it better, it just makes it more expensive.

gobbybobby said:

wow Jurassic I play L4D and L4D2 on PC and never get anything you have described. I play with freinds maily tho, maybe you should get some freinds.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

so people who have jobs and/or lives will have to pay more than the jobless and/or lifeless players? hmmm... sounds like a bad idea.

When I play FPSs I don't leave if ONE person leaves, unless they are a friend, I'll leave if the match feels too one sided. Yes even if I'm on the winning team cuz it just gets boring.

ramonsterns said:

gobbybobby said:

wow Jurassic I play L4D and L4D2 on PC and never get anything you have described. I play with freinds maily tho, maybe you should get some freinds.

Some people don't have friends online when they want to play.

And I'd learn how to spell friends before you tell someone to get some.

pcnthuziast said:

The success of Steam has apparently got good ole Gabe hella gased, this idea is ludacris... period!

MrAnderson said:

Come on people this was more of a PR stunt... although I imagine that this concept could come alive in a milder form.

It is like customer rewards. If you are a very positive force within a community you should be rewarded right. - But do take what and how he says it with a grain of salt.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

What????

They are paying some people $20,000 a week. That is $80,000 a month and around $960,000 for a year. That is almost a million dollars. If you can make $20,000 a week, would you leave you house? Would you go a vacation? You have a life just still on your butt playing games every day and not even know that life has just past you by.

But this type of person is consider to be a high value customer. To me it sounds like a addict, and this addict is to attract more addicts.

Sounds more like someone who made smart choices early in life and now makes money sitting on his *** while most people dread going to their dead end jobs. If anything you should take the lesson from learning that. The guy is kicking your *** because he spends 90% of his day worry free. However he spends that time shouldn't be a big deal to you or us.

theholmboy said:

Since it is likely that you're same here as you are in Steam, I can see immediately by the wide variance in the comments who would get the discount and who would get the full price + $100 charge for voice

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