Poll Question 225 – Should Valve experiment with pricing policies?

21st May 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Here is what Gabe Newell recently said in an interview…“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.”

Back in October 2007, for Poll Question 53 I asked Would an


  1. I don’t understand this 49.99 thing going on in game industry. Why every AAA game should be priced 49.99? Do they offer same amount of content? Do they have the same target audience? Do they all worth 49.99?

    I’d definitely pay 49.99$ for Skyrim but nobody can make me buy a Call of Duty game for that price although I’d like to play some of them. It’s not fair if you ask me.

    1. I think the same applies to books and movies. You go see a great film and it costs the same as a crappy one. Would be great if people paid what something was worth. Of course, that’s the big issue: deciding what something is worth.

  2. carloscarlin

    What do you mean by “pricing policies”? Sorry but english is not my native language and I don’t know what do you mean by that.

    1. Well, instead of charging everybody the same price for a game the price might be different for each person. In the example Gabe gave, somebody who was very popular on a server would get the game for almost nothing, or even free.

      Somebody who players didn’t like, would have to pay more.

  3. Anon_254211

    Are we talking micro transaction (aka hats from team fortress) or subscription (aka World of warcraft) fee, or paying 37,17€ for a game that’s not worth 50 € but more worth than 20 €?

  4. b1k3rdude

    Unfortunately the owner of valve is has no interest in being gamer friendly, his buisness model is transparent as he looks, fat and greedy. For the last few years I have stopped buying games that require an internet connection after the initial install and games where I don’t own the physical media.

    the only way I will consider going completely physical media free, is when the price for the game reflects the lower cost of distribution. Atm they greedy fat f*** publishers still think they cant charge full retail for download versions of a game.

    When I buy a game I can sell it on afterwards and my total cost is about £5-10 per game, when dev/pubs start dropping thier prices for games to this level only then will they be able to go media-less.

    EA sayng they are going to go this route is a joke, and other publishers moaning that the s/h market is hurting thier sales – tough! Lower intial prices would wipe out said market, but then pigs might fly..

    Lastly, without us, the customers you devs/pubs wouldn’t exist, remember that before coming up with stupid, ill-thought-out, hair-brain schemes that are only designed to extract more money from us while providing less content and play time.

    1. Your rant seems to be more about Digital content delivery rather than what this poll question is about, and that’s how they price games.

      1. b1k3rdude

        Its part and parcel of the same thing. And you’ll see that the beginning of my rant focused on the fact the valve and its ceo have no interest in catering for the end user. But if we narrow down the rant to the snippet Phillip commented on, “if a player is more popular he should pay less, and a player that people don’t like should pay more”

        In what sane and reasonable world would this ever be acceptable?

        So going back to my initial rant, devs/pubs are charging too much for games as it is. The logic behind this hair-brain suggestion is beyond comprehension, so I have to conclude its nothing more than another scheme to extract more money from the end user.

  5. Wesp5

    I think Valve talking about price politics is a little bit ironic. After all they haven’t released a single player game with more than 10 hours of gameplay for years and lately bloat up their small games with other stuff you already own or multiplayer games I don’t need. Even Portal 2, which is fun because it’s different, is still nothing more than a selection of little chambers a lot of which are not half as interesting as others released by modders for Portal 1 already. Still the game size with 11 GB is larger than anything else on my HD! Thinking about the little variety in Portal 2’s chambers, I can only imagine they blew the size up to make people pay more for it. I’m certain if they find a model to make more money with less content they will go for it..

  6. Hec

    For MP games maybe works, yesterday I was playing CS2, a game that I don’t love too much, I only purchased it in order to be able to play CSS HARDWIRE MOD, and the point is that there was a jack ass, who only used the freakin microphone to BURP!!, so that was annoying and I thought what an idiot, that’s really anoying, so that makes you think in some kind of money penality for those kind of idiots…, but if that scheme of charging games based on poppulartiy just go from MP games to SP, I think communty would wanted to kill Gabe Newell with his apparently crazy and fast happy ideas……

    Oh I have a message for Gabe, please stop bloffing about your company future market strategys, and please TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT HL EP3!!!!!!!, for god sake, MAKE IT OFFICIAL!!!

  7. Kyouryuu

    I’m not sure what the context of “one price for everyone” is. I assume he’s talking about the $60 price point for most new releases, which I couldn’t agree more with. There are so few games that are worth full price, yet the structure is the same for triple-A products versus mediocre waste. Some games have no business asking full price.

    Yet, I think common wisdom among the marketing types is that if something isn’t $60, consumers will believe there is “something wrong” with it. Price is also something which is virtually never reflected in reviews either. A game that is $20 is consistently graded against one that is $60, given the same platform, and usually turns out all the worse for it.

    I’ve always thought that Wii games were the most egregious offenders. Here’s tech that’s barely on par with the last console generation, and you have the audacity to release everything at $50? Really? Would people honestly pay $50 today for a PlayStation 2 game? I doubt it.

    Course then the 3DS comes along and attempts to prove that people will spend $40 for portable games that cost a buck on their iPhone. That’s hilarious.

  8. I would like to see what Valve comes up with in regards to pricing schemes. I enjoy seeing Valve challenging the status quo, though I’m not sure how much impact it will have if they do find a better way of pricing.

    I remember being told somewhere, in jest, that the way marketing departments determine price is they increase the price until people start complaining and that’s about the right price. This view may be cynical but I think that it’s not too far from the truth. Just like all businesses, game companies want to make the largest profit possible and if they can sell a game for $90-120, like they do here in Australia, with little complaint, they will continue to do so.

    I think that the only way that you could ensure that everyone gets a fair individually tailored price is by using some form of honesty system. I’m in favour of a pay after play system because I think that’s really the only way that you could fully judge what game is worth to you personally. I’m not fully convinced that this works with human nature in mind but things like the Humble Indie Bundle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humble_Indie_Bundle) show that there is a possibility that it may work. It seems that there is a large amount of generosity mixed in with the piracy.

    As an ending note, I feel that anything that Valve can do to help reduce the price of gaming for the end user, especially in Australia, I’m all for it.

  9. Herr_Alien


    Flexibility is alway a plus, and for a game, having a healthy community is to be desired. If Valve decides it wants to encourage it by providing special offers to some special members of the community, then they should do that.

    I bet the levels of on-line hate will decrease if they implement that.

  10. Anon_255043

    Why, yes indeed it is a very good idea. I believe it will be implemented in due time.

  11. Sabre

    Not to shock anyone, but this idea isn’t new. In fact, it already exsists in many places and chances are you have already fallen for it. It’s called Price Discrimination. The best example would be the cinema. Students and kids get in cheap because they have alot of time and not much money. It’s not as if it’s cheaper to show a film to young people, but they can’t afford full price, so it happens, and most accept it.

    Another example is limited editions. Let’s say £40 for a game, £60 for the special edition, the extras will cost less then £20 to produce, but it exsists to get people are willing to pay £60 to part with £60, but they still get money from the people who either cant or are unwilling to pay that much money for the game.

    In some cases such as medicine, the same campany might put the same product into different packages. One brand name package with a high price, and the same in a plain box.

    It’s everywhere. Public Transport, Games, Consoles, Medicine (particularly pain killers), Bread, Orange Juice (oranges are oranges reguardless of who squeeses them), Films, Live Shows (the cheap seats vs front row) ect.

    1. You are right, but all the examples you give are based on a person circumstances, not their behaviour, so I think Gabe’s example, is a bit different.

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