By Sweep 36 Comments
In a lengthy interview with Develop, Newell said: "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."
Rather than pricing a product based purely on what that product is worth, Newell talks about pricing a product based on what the customer is worth as well. "Some people, when they join a server, a ton of people will run with them," Newell continued. "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."
Which is a pretty interesting take on the whole pricing system that currently exists, though it opens up several glaring issues that i'm sure you are all immediately aware of.
Firstly, a system like this would be hugely exploitable
and would be consequently exploited. Mercilessly. Communities would group together to either bump or drop individual scores in the name of getting free stuff for themselves or depriving others.
More interesting, however, is the idea of a developer having direct control over how their games are played. What if someone's enjoyment from a game comes from annoying other people who play that game? That might not be particularly honorable, but is that not fair? If they are paying money for the product, aren't they entitled to use it however they want? This echoes the entire "Should people be able to jailbreak their iPhones?" argument that was held not long ago. I seem to remember that the court ruled that once a person has bought a product then they own it and can do with it as they please. Where do you draw the lines?
For example, I sometimes play Eve Online (shaddap), and one of the main sources of entertainment in that game is "Scamming" or trying to embezzle in-game money from other players, which is a legitimate way to play. Doing so is obviously inconveniencing other players of the game, but it's still a legitimate way to play. I appreciate that Eve is a pretty extreme example given the free-from nature of the game, but the fundamentals still hold true.
The other side of the argument is that Valve should have the right to reward their loyal customers. If they deem you a dick there is nothing to stop them from treating you like a dick. If you own a store then you can give personal discounts to your friends while refusing to serve other customers. That's their right as well.
I know people that consider themselves entitled, having paid money for a game, to fair and honest gameplay.
I used to play Gears Of War 2 with a good friend who would rage at anyone who wouldn't work as part of our team. His argument was "I'm paying to play the game, I shouldn't be forced to deal with other who are paying to fuck about". This sense of entitlement is also core to the issue, though this is of course highly subjective. Who is to say that one way of playing the game is better than another? That mentality reeks of the arrogance of Denis Dyack who, after people gave Too Human poor review scores, claimed they "Didn't get it."
I have also had lengthy discussions (arguments) with MattBodega because, having discussed a game I was currently playing with him, he told me I was playing it right. I was outraged at the suggestion that any experience other than the one I was having could be considered anything other than "right". It's my experience within a videogame, something that is personal to me alone. That's the whole point. If everybody was supposed to play in an identical way then we might as well be watching a fucking film. In that sense, is there a wrong way to play a videogame?
Yeah, that's right Bodega! I'm calling you out!
So what does Sweep think about all this?
My own opinion is that; if the game is well made then the incentives of the game should be enough to dictate how the game is played. I shouldn't need to be told, the rewards of fair and balanced play should be all the incentive required. If there is room for others to abuse the scenario in which they have been placed, who is at fault? The developer, who left the game exploitable or didn't give the player enough incentive to not act like a dick, or the player, for finding an alternate source of entertainment.
I can see Gabe looking at the current system and saying "We need to mix things up a bit" and mad respect to him for that, but this does somewhat seem like a slightly idealistic system being applied to a far from ideal userbase. Still, very interesting.
Thanks For Reading