The games sector will 'live or die based on whether it can find new ways to make users happy', says Newell

Valve: Bad games are industry’s biggest problem

Bad games are one of the biggest problems facing the industry as they can deter customers away from future purchases, Valve’s co-founder Gabe Newell has claimed.

Newell said that potential users would likely turn away from the sector altogether, and not just away from a single publisher’s releases, if they had bad experiences with poorly designed games.

“The real question is, are people going to spend time playing games or browse the internet or watch movies?” he said in a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown.

“We’re really still at the phase where there are so many more people who aren’t playing games than those who are. The reality is, anyone who plays a great game and has a great time is more likely to buy another game. Our biggest issue is that shitty games are much worse for us as an industry overall. 

“It’s not like you go ‘oh good that customer has dollars in their pocket, they can spend them on my game’. It’s more like they just aren’t going to buy games in general, or go do something else with their time, [if they play a game they don’t enjoy].”

Newell also said that the industry would fundamentally “live or die” based on whether it could find new ways to make customers happy, and dismissed the importance of industry rivalries in the face of such a key issue.

The Valve boss last year told Develop that the industry had a “broken model” of one price fits all, and was something the company would be looking to change.

“What you really want to do is create the optimal pricing service for each customer and see what’s best for them,” he said.

“We need to give customers, all of them, a robust set of options regarding how they pay for their content.

“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 behaviour 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.”

Newell has also previously spoken out on treating games as a service, in turn helping to add value to products by giving them longevity to the customer, and has criticised policies such as DRM, which limits games to a certain amount of installs.

“One thing that you hear us talk a lot about is entertainment as a service,” he said.

“It’s an attitude that says ‘what have I done for my customers today?’ It informs all the decisions we make, and once you get into that mindset it helps you avoid things like some of the Digital Rights Management problems that actually make your entertainment products worth less by wrapping those negatives around them.”

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