Valve Wants to Charge Customers By Their Likability

If you’re an anonymous jerk, Valve wants you to pay more to play their games.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


Valve boss Gabe Newell believes the current payment model for the gaming industry is “broken.” He also believes anonymity is doing its part to ruin online experiences. That’s why Valve is looking into alternative business models for charging customers that takes care of these two concerns with one stone thrown. One such model factors in not only the price of the software, but also the worth of the gamer purchasing it.

While speaking with Develop, Newell says that the current business model of charging one set price for all consumers is a “bug,” one that he plans to stamp out with the help of his company, Valve.

"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," said Newell.

Instead, Newell suggests that gamers should be charged based off how they get along with the online community. "Some people, when they join a server, a ton of people will run with them," continued Newell. "Other people, when they join a server, will cause others to leave.

"So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get DotA 2 for free, because of past behavior in Team Fortress 2," Newell added. "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."

For the record, this sounds glorious to us. I know I speak for a number of editors here at Crave when I say that games have been ruined due to their hate-filled online communities. Unless you’re playing with a group of friends, there’s no point putting on a headset with random people in a Call of Duty online match. You’ll be pissed off within minutes by someone using anonymity to their advantage. Newell’s proposed system could help weed those people out. If you don’t play nice, enjoy paying hundreds to get your gaming fix.

To really put the punctuation mark on this new business model pitch, Newell mentions that Valve has already begun charging “negative” amounts to Steam users who have created Team Fortress 2 items. In fact, Valve has paid these people for their work. "Their cost for Team Fortress 2 is negative $20,000 per week," Newell said. "You're never going to see that in a retail store … It's people who make hats get paid. People who are really popular play for less, or free."

This is a future we could see ourselves gaming in.