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Pay Less If You're a Nice Person: Valve's Freemium Model For DOTA 2 316

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-like-that-shirt-by-the-way dept.
Canazza writes "In a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown, summarized by Develop, Valve Boss Gabe Newell discusses the payment model for upcoming strategy game DOTA 2. '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? ... 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 behavior 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.'"
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Pay Less If You're a Nice Person: Valve's Freemium Model For DOTA 2

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  • I like this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#39749557)
    DOTA jerks are the reason I quit HON. I just wonder what the metics involved in figuring if someone is a jerk or not.
    • Five zorkmids says it's a function of how many Secret Saxton gifts they've given. (No, Valve, I'm not cynical about your monetization strategies at all!)
    • More Importantly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:54PM (#39749585) Journal
      More importantly, why wouldn't the jerks just start new accounts and buy the game at the entry level pricing instead of the jerk pricing?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Talderas (1212466)

        A new account means you don't get all your previously earned cheevios linked to it.

      • by Zencyde (850968)
        It sounds like it's the other way around. The jerk pricing is the entry level pricing and you get discounts as you get confirmed as a nice person.
    • Re:I like this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#39749659)

      I'm a DOTA noob that has spent a little time in the DOTA 2 beta.

      This community is not noob friendly at all. DOTA is complicated, and there is *TONS* of stuff that there is no way a noob will know.

      Yet it seems like 10 - 25% of the community is verbally abusive towards noobs.

      This is a HUGE problem if Valve wants DOTA2 to be a successful game. New people need to be able to come in and learn the game without being abused by assholes that think they are better people because they do nothing but play DOTA.

      If every new person quits the game after being yelled at, there won't be much of a "community" left.

      • by Omestes (471991)

        I feel the same way about LoL, I really enjoyed it, but it is impossible to actually learn not to such without being screamed at during every match. Also the learning curve is artificially obscene, thanks to 600000 fan made terms that I'm supposed to somehow has an a priori grasp on before even playing it. I quit LoL after a week, even if I really enjoyed it, and thus the devs lost whatever money I'd have thrown at them (and Tribes Ascend's devs are that much richer...).

        I'm in my 30s, I don't have time f

    • It seems like it would be pretty easy to tie it to certain stats and community feedback. If the developers compare the stats of a bunch of good players and bad players, it probably wouldn't be hard to spot recognizable trends that would be hard to fake. Start everybody at the same price, but great players start to get a discount over time. Sounds like a really smart idea.
      • Re:I like this (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ArhcAngel (247594) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#39749977)
        Maybe something like George Carlin proposed for driving. Give everybody a dart gun when they get their drivers license and when they see somebody driving badly shoot the trunk. When there are enough darts the police pull you over.
        • That was Gallagher, not Carlin. But it is indeed a great idea.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, let's make computer game prices a popularity contest. We all really enjoyed that in high school, didn't we? And the nice people were always the most popular, weren't they? People who bubble up to the top of communities are always borderline sociopathic types, "politicians" if you will. They play the people, not the game. Most people will think these people are nice, until they learn their true nature when they find themselves in disagreement or antagonized for some mundane reason.

        A game operator needs

        • We all really enjoyed that in high school, didn't we?

          Yes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I love this news. I'm going to organize a clan of jerks in DOTA 2. We will flag each other as nice players, and flag everyone else as jerks.
          I can easily get 100 people to buy the game and follow me into this project, and with a bit of advertising on the webz I can easily get 1000 people. I'm sure we'll have no trouble becoming a majority of the playerbase or big enough at least that we can control the voting system.

          Thanks Valve for making a game where us griefers can have fun. Meta-griefing is also the best

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I don't like this. What if I want to surround myself with jerks?

      That's a completely serious question. I actually prefer to talk to, and be surrounded by, people who are assholes. I think they're more fun, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about being insulted by some random dipshit on the internet. Or in person, really. Hell, I feel slightly uncomfortable when somebody doesn't take a shot at me that I know they could have. A community of "nice" people? Gag me with a spoon, that sounds like an incredibly du

      • Re:I like this (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:30PM (#39750093)

        This is exactly the same problem that was faced in Ultima Online when it became obvious that some people enjoyed whacking new and otherwise defenseless players. They introduced PvP flags and zones to get around it, and I don't see why a similar approach wouldn't work here.

        Each player could start out with their "Protection from assholes" flag set by default. If they either behave abusively (according to whatever flawed metric Valve uses to make that call) or turn the flag off intentionally, they will lose the ability to communicate with people who still have the flag set.

        Offering monetary discounts for playing nice is just going to create a metagame, which will be exploited. Valve should instead apply a policy of "strict scrutiny," where only the smallest, least invasive steps necessary are taken to solve the problem.

        • Re:I like this (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdotNO@SPAMlepertheory.net> on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:45PM (#39750325) Homepage

          Each player could start out with their "Protection from assholes" flag set by default. If they either behave abusively (according to whatever flawed metric Valve uses to make that call) or turn the flag off intentionally, they will lose the ability to communicate with people who still have the flag set.

          See, now that sounds fine to me. I'd turn that flag off and happily exclude myself from the milquetoast masses. The very first thing I do anywhere it's available is turn off the profanity filter, and turn on the PvP flag.

          I'm not out to actually ruin anyone's day. Hell, I don't even want to make dipshits like the post above yours feel bad just because they can't tell the difference between a troll and somebody who prefers a more honest interaction style between their peers. I just want to call you a fucking moron when you do something stupid and have you be mildly embarrassed and have that mild embarrassment be a motivator to fix your behavior in the future instead of going, "uh, gee, golly gosh, you know it's actually more effective..." and then have somebody mash "UNLIKEABLE" because I didn't make them feel like a perfect snowflake.

          And I want the same thing back. I don't want language couched in fifteen layers of inoffensiveness, just tell me what I did wrong, feel free to throw a curse or two in for emphasis if you think it's warranted. I'll sort out if I'm actually a dipshit on my own.

          • You seem to have trouble dealing in anything other than absolutes.

            • I won't say I've never used absolutes, but what about the post you replied to indicated that? Did you interpret my hyperbole used to highlight a point as actual beliefs? And where did you learn to make personality judgments based on short posts on the internet? That seems like an amazingly useful skill.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          This is the current system Valve are more or less using in the beta. Players who get reported often or who leave games early (team game, so that ruins it for the other players) get shoved into the "low priority queue." Basically, that is where the ragers, jerks, and assholes end up. It isn't perfect yet, but it does help some. And of course it really is low-priority, so it takes a while to find a game (creating the incentive not to end up there).

      • I don't like this. What if I want to surround myself with jerks?

        That's a completely serious question. I actually prefer to talk to, and be surrounded by, people who are assholes. I think they're more fun, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about being insulted by some random dipshit on the internet. Or in person, really. Hell, I feel slightly uncomfortable when somebody doesn't take a shot at me that I know they could have. A community of "nice" people? Gag me with a spoon, that sounds like an incredibly dull place, and stressful too, where you have to worry every second about hurting somebody's feelings. Verbally knocking people around (and being knocked around) is half the fun, making this community sound like a great place if you like playing football with a bunch of grandmothers with osteoporosis.

        Besides which, the true assholes out there are the ones that make the "community" turning on their target just another part of the making-them-feel-like-shit process. Can't wait to see what the trolls do with the new game (that game being the new pricing model, not DotA).

        Enjoy paying the "jerk tax" then... or get tired of it and move on to something else. Either way, Valve wins.

      • Re:I like this (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vintermann (400722) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:41PM (#39750259) Homepage

        I actually prefer to talk to, and be surrounded by, people who are assholes. I think they're more fun, and I couldn't give less of a fuck about being insulted by some random dipshit on the internet.

        Well, fuck you and what you want, freak.

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Then you'll pay more for the priviege to be an asshole and surround yourself with your fellow assholes. Simple.

  • Basically, Valve is going to tell a paying customer that he is a jerk (indirectly by offering him a higher price than others). Great business model.

    Next release, they can tell a paying customer if he is a moron or not - i.e. if a customer paid for a valve game even after being indirectly being told by Valve that he is a jerk, that means he is a moron.

    • Re:Good Model (Score:4, Informative)

      by timeOday (582209) on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#39749647)

      Basically, Valve is going to tell a paying customer that he is a jerk (indirectly by offering him a higher price than others). Great business model.

      Were you about to make some argument either way, or is that it?

    • Re:Good Model (Score:5, Insightful)

      by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:11PM (#39749831)

      Basically, Valve is going to tell a paying customer that he is a jerk (indirectly by offering him a higher price than others). Great business model.

      Next release, they can tell a paying customer if he is a moron or not - i.e. if a customer paid for a valve game even after being indirectly being told by Valve that he is a jerk, that means he is a moron.

      I see nothing wrong with that, when a small number of unpleasant players can ruin the perception and experience of many people. I have quit subscription games in the past because of briefing and anti-social players. For them to tolerate jerks, just because they are paying customers, is shooting themselves in the foot a lot more than making a small number of people, who are ruining the game pay, extra.

    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      If it removes the 5% of players who ruin the game for everyone else, then I would expect more people to play the game. Alas, most jerks do seem to be morons as well, so we might only be rid of 1-2% of them.
    • by Desler (1608317)

      Boohoo. Contrary to the popular saying, the customer is not always right. Wise companies know when it's time to cut ties to those customers who aren't worth doing business with.

  • by wamatt (782485) * on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#39749605)

    "Dude I paid $100 bucks to be a jerk. Did you? No then STFU asshole."

  • Gaming the system (Score:4, Insightful)

    by capnchicken (664317) on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#39749615)

    The real jerks will make sure they game whatever reporting tool there is in order to make other people look like jerks.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      Note to self: mod capnchicken Troll every time he posts for outing our ruse!

      ***Extra note to self: don't post "notes to self" on a public form***

    • I'm not sure. In my experience, microsoft seems to be doing a decent job of policing xbox live.

      Yes, you read that right. MICROSOFT is doing a decent job. Reports that xbox live is a cesspit of cursing 13 year olds are greatly exaggerated. The secret seems to be having actual people be the judges: it's not a simple system where x number of complaints = marked as bad and banned.

      If MS can get it semi-right, you have to expect that Valve can do a passable job too.
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:04PM (#39749747) Homepage Journal
    Whoever posted this summary without spelling out exactly what DOTA is.

    Second asshole to be fired from the cannon would be the article writer who did the same fucking thing.
    • by Necroman (61604) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:42PM (#39750265)

      DOTA [wikipedia.org] = "Defense of the Ancients".

      The basics of the game are that you control a single unit (a hero), and you work with a team of people (normally 5 other players). So it becomes a 6 vs 6 battle where you are trying to destroy the other teams base. This game style has been dubbed ARTS [wikipedia.org] (action real time strategy).

        It originally started as a Warcraft 3 mod. Since then, numerous companies have copied the style.

      1) You have Blizzard creating [battle.net] a DOTA mod for Starcraft 2.
      2) You have Valve creating DOTA 2 [dota2.com]. (note that Valve and Blizzard are having a trademark war [joystiq.com] right now over DOTA). Dota 2 is a stand-alone game.
      3) LoL (League of Legends [leagueoflegends.com]) is a DOTA style came released back in 2009. It's a stand-alone game with persistant characters.

    • by Skythe (921438)
      FYI Valve have dropped the "Defense of the Ancients" moniker and now more generically refer to it as Dota.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448)

    Valve thinks it is OK to be a jerk if you are rich enough to afford $100?
    And they think that it is a good idea to game the multiplayer experience of everyone to make as little as $100?

    This problem has already been solved. charge everyone the same and ban the jerks.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:25PM (#39750033)

      Yes, an furthermore $100 wasn't exactly a figure plucked out of the air... it's the cost of the "Something Special for Someone Special" item in the TF2 store, which when purchased, sends out a message to all players currently playing TF2 that "[Person A] has given a [Renamed Thing] to [Person B]. Congratulations!"

      Needless to say, this item is used by jerks with various messages. For $100 a pop.

      Did I mention the item's other use is a barely-visible cosmetic item in the game?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:10PM (#39749813)

    Now, a real jerk that annoys everyone

    "Who". A real jerk who [wikipedia.org] annoys everyone.

    -- a real jerk who annoys everyone

  • Mind Control! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:11PM (#39749835)

    Mind Control!

    Seriously, who decides what is "acceptable" behavior? Valve? Players acting as moderators? GROUPS of players acting as moderators? PAID GROUPS? (see where I'm going with this?)

    The moment you start applying anything other then peer pressure is the moment where distrust SHOULD come into play. Some people should never be allowed such control over others, in-game or out. Sure, some people are dicks, but handing out baseball bats (excuse me, Ban-Hammers) to the disgruntled is not the solution.

    "The Disgruntled Ones is now recruiting for Scalper positions, as well as Guild Attorney. Must have Moderation Points!"

    • Groupthink, of course. Be, do and say what others like and you're beloved.

      Gee, you haven't been long here on /., have you?

      • by Cederic (9623)

        Yes. But that's because Slashdot discussions generally include multiple diverse viewpoints intermingled and intelligently argued, in amongst the jerks, the DOTA fanatics and the people going "WTF is DOTA and why should we care if jerks want to pay for it?"

    • if you think that smacking wrists and telling people to play nice is mind control now, I can't even imagine what you were like as a kindergartener. Sheesh. Not everyone thinks life is a survival-of-the-assholeiest struggle where life and death are determined by how much of a jerk you can be online.

      Unfortunately, those who DO are DOTA players. HON sure was fun to get yelled at over my ear piece because I'd never even heard of what a DOTA was before. it was kind of fun, but I had no interest in being verba

  • I've been playing TF2 since it came out. I often help new players with tips and advice and I've received a few gifts for my efforts, making me think I'd be high up on Gabe's "Don't be a jerk" scale...

    But I have no interest in DOTA2! Waaaahh!!

  • Everyone who sucks at the game will get it for free, and everyone who's good at it will have to pay full price.

    Face it, it's more fun for most people to play with target dummies.

  • Look, we've all been chosen last for some sport. Doesn't matter if we were good or not, we were the nerds. That why we play video games now and not pickup b-ball with the other over-40 guys. Don't make us feel like we've been picked last (pay $200 for voice) or we won't play. Without those guys paying $200, no one will get to play for free (or now marginally annoying guys get targeted to cough up the dough).
  • How it works is this:

    If you've played TF2:

    (Medic hours + Soldier hours + Heavy hours) / (Spy hours + Sniper hours + Pyro hours). The higher the number, the less you pay.

    • I wonder where I'd fit in this - I almost always play Scout/Demo/Engineer. OK, I admit I do take the the pyro quite often because they're really good at protecting allies from explosives and fire, can remove sappers, keep spies away and have my favourite weapon: the almighty flaregun of sniper-slaying. I hope that doesn't make me a jerk.

  • But, tt's roughly the gaming equivalent of Ladies Night at the classy local sports bar.
  • I don't think charging extra or penalizing annoying players will ever work--it's too easy to game that into an offensive weapon--and I do think manipulation of any new system should be expected as an eventuality. But that's no different from any other rules of the game.

    The fundamental idea, to crowdsource who is a 'fun' player from other players and then give them discounts or incentives sounds great. (voice chat?) Good crowdsourcing models are out there, but the real trick is to figure out ways to enable t

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