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When it comes to innovation and risk-taking, few developers match up to Valve. Known for its immense success with Half-Life, Portal, and Team Fortress 2, the Washington-based developer certainly isn’t afraid to tread new ground or take risks. With the upcoming sequel to DOTA, it’s doing just that, applying an experimental business model to a highly anticipated new game.
Valve’s Gabe Newell has previously voiced his disappointment at the ‘trollish’ side of the online gaming community, complaining that some gamers can destroy the experience of loyal, helpful players. In an interview earlier this month, he hinted at DOTA2′s pricing model including some features designed to keep in-game trolling to a minimum.
Now we know what they are. While Valve hasn’t released any specific rates or prices for the game, it’s confirmed that the pay-to-troll pricing model will be coming into effect. Gamers that provide a useful service and a good experience, whether in Valve’s other games such as Team Fortress 2, or in the upcoming DOTA sequel, will be rewarded with lower priced – even free – access to the game.
On the other hand, known trolls and community annoyances will be charged significantly more for the privilege of playing Valve’s new online strategy game. Newell has hinted at the game costing a great deal more for trolls, as well as pricing for features like voice chat, which can be used to annoy other gamers. It’s a bizarre and innovative model, but it’s one that could work.
When you consider that some great games, particularly first person shooters, are ruined by the trolls and annoying members of their communities, Valve’s decision begins to make a lot of sense. With a potentially free game up for grabs for those that spend time contributing to the community, helping new players, and providing good, we might see a big change in behavior on Valve’s online games.