Valve believe microtransactions used for evil will ultimately "lose in the marketplace"

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Microtransactions, like wrist-based web-sacs, are tools to be used responsibly. It’s no news that when they’re not, players can be left feeling cheated and unhappy, with an undesirable leather-to-coin wallet contents ratio. But on top of that, professional Half-Life-skirkers Valve reckon that a morally unsound approach to in-game economies isn’t financially sound either.

“All of these things lead to regret,” said Valve’s Kyle Davis. “And regret leads to effectively training your customers to stop buying things from you.”

“It’s our belief - and we have a lot of data to back up this belief - that products that use microtransactions or economic systems as tools for maximising revenue from unhappy users will lose in the marketplace,” said Davis in a Steam Dev Days talk about the in-game economies of TF2 and Dota.

Attracting long-term, happy customers is one of Valve’s core philosophies, said Davis, and any cash that comes at a cost of consumer happiness is something they want to avoid “at all costs”.

“To be really concrete: we would rather someone not become a customer of ours, rather than them become a customer and be unhappy about that decision,” explained Davis.

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As a result, Valve don’t hurry to find the maximum value in their games at launch. They’d rather wait a while to find a way to get rich that will also turn players into happy customers.

Internally, Valve have a ‘regret test’. Testers play with a new system, and developers find out, a day or a week later, whether they’re “still happy with their interactions”. The process then continues once a feature is shipped. Valve collect data from the public to find out whether they’re regretting their purchases later - and if so, they do something about it. 

“We view any system that generates value at a cost to customer happiness as a broken system that we need to fix,” said Davis.

Davis pointed out, perhaps unnecessarily, that a lot of “really pervasive” microtransaction systems in the games industry currently “violate” the principles Valve have set out for themselves. They create artificial barriers and charge to remove them, earning money without providing a service to the player. They rely on virtual currencies which “obfuscate” pricing, or trap user money inside the game’s system.

It’s an approach that inevitably leads to regret, said Davis, which is “incredibly damaging long-term”.

Let’s talk about this, then: what in-game purchases do you regret making? And which are you still happy to remember?

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Sax avatarReikhardt avatarShriven avatarDog Pants avatarsubedii avatarclownp33n13 avatar+1
Dog Pants Avatar
2 Years ago

Unfortunately people likely to be posting here are likely to be the kind of people who don't do the silly mobile game MT thing. The £70 gem 'deals' in Dungeon Keeper. Well, not unfortunately for us, but unfortunately for the sake of discussion.

Personally I'll buy microtransaction stuff if I feel a sense of investment in a game before I spend anything. I've probably spent £40 in Planetside 2, all with cheap SC and mostly on sales. Some is weaponry, most is hideous purple tigerstripe spandex. For me it all comes down to whether I can enjoy the game for the same or less than what I would have been prepared to pay up front. So conversely, even though I enjoy Guild Wars 2, I already paid £50 for it so I'm not really inclined to spend any more.

subedii Avatar
2 Years ago

I always see references to how the "masses" (or whatever) don't hold to these theories because they're so stupid. But then it's hard for me to not see similar happening when I look at what happened to Zynga. Zynga was the "golden child", the one everyone wanted to (and did) emulate, and now, well...

I don't think these things happen immediately, but I do believe it's very possible to damage your brand over time through such practices. Once people adjust to the practices and start to familiarise themselves with the mechanics at play, there's often a sharp drop off in willingness to participate.

Much like the general Free-2-Play bandwaggon jumping PC-side, the only games of those that have really managed to be successful and thrive (let alone just plain survive) are the ones where the monetisation doesn't feel like it's a roadblock to the fun.

clownp33n13 Avatar
2 Years ago

in the 3 years ive been playing dota2 i have spent 300+

im including a headset and apparel that included in game items.

alot of those older items that came from the shirts mice and headsets are really keeping value.

my question would be what if valve just decides to end dota2?

what would happen with our inventories?

please i need answers lol

Sax Avatar
2 Years ago

Or you just have to very clever in your evilness, see trading cards.

Reikhardt Avatar
2 Years ago

How are trading cards evil? You're free to ignore them and they're nothing to do with the games they come from.

Shriven Avatar
2 Years ago

They have monetised Steam. Totally optional thing.

Sax Avatar
2 Years ago

They are not optional. Every Steam user takes part automatically. As soon as you run games you receive cards. Which is, of course, intentional. You can let them amass in you inventory or you can take the "free money" and sell them on the market. That's what most people who don't want to craft badges will do.

Valve profits from every sold or bought item.

Denterroquet Avatar
Denterroquet replied to Sax
2 Years ago

Actually, if you want to receive cards, you have to join the Steam Card group.

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