Valve hires economist to study virtual currency

Seattle software giant brings on Greek economics theory professor Yanis Varoufakis to assist company in managing its in-game economies.

Valve's latest hire has almost no knowledge of games. In fact, he is a self-proclaimed "ignoramus" when it comes to the industry. Who is this man, and how is he helping the Half-Life house? Valve recently announced that it has brought on economics theory professor and author Yanis Varoufakis to assist the company in analyzing the in-game economies that surround its franchises.

Valve has hired Varoufakis to help the company understand virtual economies.

Writing on a new Valve Economics blog, the Athens, Greece-born Varoufakis explained how his relationship with Valve came to be. Valve leader Gabe Newell was a frequent reader of Varoufakis' blog, which chronicled the state of Greece's economy and the recent European debt crisis.

Newell approached Varoufakis through email one day, explaining that Valve was having trouble wrapping its head around how best to create a shared in-game currency. The Valve boss drew similarities between Valve's problems with the real-world issues between Germany and Greece, and thought Varoufakis would be a perfect candidate to become Valve's in-house economist. Varoufakis was interested, flew to Seattle to meet Newell, and accepted the position of economist-in-residence.

At Valve, Varoufakis will perform a range of analytical economic tasks, including "a great deal of data mining, experimentation, and calibration of services provided to customers on the basis of such empirical findings." Additionally, it is his goal to "forge narrative and empirical knowledge that (a) transcend the border separating the 'real' from the digital economies, and (b) bring together lessons from the political economy of our gamers' economies and from studying Valve's very special (and fascinating) internal management structure."

Varoufakis will share his findings on Valve's social economies through a weekly blog report, which will run at the Valve Economics page. Valve's decision to hire an economist follows the company's expansion into the free-to-play market. The company recently made class-based multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 free-to-play, and is planning to adopt the same model with the upcoming real-time strategy game Dota 2.

Valve is not the first game company to bring on an economist. In 2007, CCP Games hired Dr. Eyjólfur Guðmundsson of the University of Akureyri in Iceland to assist on the studio's massively multiplayer online role-playing game EVE Online.

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Crush_Project
Crush_Project

this type of perspective is whats driven every ounce of creativity out of the gaming market for the last decade and more.

 

i just cant wait for them to hang themselves, crash, and we can get people serious about making art, and not trying to mass produce it again.

 

All this has happened before.  please see the video game crash of the 80's (the first one i think).

Daian
Daian

Oh, the irony...

blee575
blee575

Hey guys. I'm Greek. Just a few words:Yes there are tax evaders. Most of them DO pay taxes, the just evade some of them (by stating they have smaller properties than they do, ie). The main reason most people do that, is because the government in Greece (there is only ONE government, disguised as many political parties to make people believe we have democracy- probably that's the case in most western countries, you just don't realise it yet because you haven't reached the bottom, having problems with your basic needs and watching your leaders ignoring you and obeying the demands of the markets) is so corrupted and it is a common belief (and probably true) that they would just use the money for themselves, stealing it for the people (it has happened several times).NO, tax evaders are NOT the reason for the Greek crisis. Not even close. The reasons  the Greek crisis occurred are:The failing of global economy, which was the result of greediness of American and European banks, which used much more money than what they had. Remember, the crisis started with the fall of Lehman brothers.The corrupted politicians of Greece, who never told the people that the country was indebted (until 2009 Greeks didn't even know we had a debt!), who made 1000000 hires in government companies, just to have them terrorized that they will loose their jobs if they don't vote for them (there is a video of a ND politician-the winning pro-Europe party-threatening ''the people who got jobs from us'' to pay for them).Angela Merkel (and the IMF), who thinks she can accomplish Hitlers vision through economy. For example: they demand the country sells the electricity and water companies, as well as ports and airports (which are already sold-to GERMAN companies, who haven't paid ANY taxes). Careful- they don't want us to make them profitable. They don't want us to fire those who are not needed. They want us to SELL them. If that's not a plan to conquer a country, then tell me what is. Just to clarify, i don't thing that Merkel represents the German people, in the same way our politicians don't represent us.Lastly: the above economist, Varoufakis, was shouting all this time that Greece has to leave the Euro and deny to pay the debt's interest.It's sad when everyone likes to rumble about the rich and corrupted, bankers and billionaires who rule us all, but then supports THOSE EXACT BILLIONAIRES against people who starve. Greece has done many mistakes-but what happens in Greece now has NOTHING to do with them.

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

Wow! so many harsh stereotypes about Greeks in general! its their government, not the Greeks themselves (of coarse there's going to be tax evaders if there's no one to stop them). I for one respect Greece- if it weren't for them we would be either still swinging off trees or living under some Persian monarch (possibly)- plus their entire history has been and endless fight for freedom.

jmc88888
jmc88888

Umm no.  The reason why Greece went bankrupt is because the Euro was designed to fail.  It was DESIGNED to fail.  It was sold by swindlers to dupes as a great plan.  All the useful idiots pushed how great it would be to cede over control to unelected banksters to destroy your country for their gain.

 

Monetarism is an oligarchical principle which the world accepts as legitimate even though it is not.  I REPEAT MONETARISM IS NOT LEGITIMATE.  Economics revolving around MONETARISM is a fool's paradise.  Every economics textbook is virtually wholly wrong about everything.

 

Learn American History and figure out that America was the first anti-monetarist, anti-imperial, anti-corporate breakaway nation.  But of course we now are all of those things and more. We joined back up with those we broke away with, and are now recolonized ideologically.

 

Keynesian vs. Austrian doesn't matter, they're both an oligarchical ideology.  You think the oligarch gives you a choice when you play their game?  Cutting spending, printing money or both is not the way to address outright fraud. 

 

Germany was forced to join the Euro under the threat of war for the price of their reunification.  The banksters and the corporations who have control over pretty much every nation on this planet have screwed over Greece. 

 

Bet you don't know that the 'bailouts' of Greece aren't for Greece right? You know that right? They go back to German, U.K, and other banks.  It's really a foreign bank bailout that GREECE's citizens are supposed to pay back. 

Same with U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and the list goes on and on and on and on.

 

Greece is just one nation of many getting screwed.  Don't worry, you'll find out soon enough you are in the same boat as the Greeks, so lobby idiocy somewhere else.  You (and all of us) will suffer the same fate as the Greeks.  The oligarchy has judged us not important.  We are a plague upon THEIR planet. 

 

People here need some good education about eCONomics, politics, who actually sets the debate, controls the world, as well as WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON.

 

Yes dang Greeks can't pay the tab for German banks.  It's all their fault they were defrauded.

 

Here's a clue, we were defrauded too.  Derivatives are a fraud.  Obama is a fraud.  Romney is a fraud. Monetarism is a fraud.  Just about everything is a fraud, but the big lie is so wide open is skates by without anyone noticing it.

 

No Glass-Steagall, no economic recovery.  No way to change this fact.  America is a credit nation, not a debt nation.  That's what the founders founded. 

 

Will Helicopter Ben print to cover more fraud tomorrow or let the markets tank? We'll see.  But in the end Ben can do only one thing, print digital 1's and 0's to the big fraudsters, devalue or currency without adding anything to the physical economy and shift as much as possible onto the public debt to be 'sterilized' by reducing real people's money via taxes.

 

Greatest depression in the history of mankind still ahead of us.  Nerobama has brought no change, he's part of the problem.  Wall Street Mitt will of course will do, Wall Street's bidding.

 

Monetarism for the oligarchy is running amok worldwide.  So make your jokes and simple observations about Greece with great trepidation.  What's the old saying, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Well, you ARE living in a glass house.  Your fate will be no different than the Greeks guaranteed.

 

Glass-Steagall

Majkic666
Majkic666

The main reason why Greece went bankrupt is because there were so many Tax-evaders and they did nothing to stop it, even Germany offered to help them by sending Economist to fix the Tax-evader problem 10 years ago.. and last year they dont even want to accept their money because its a loan with terms, since they want them for free..

 

Which then leaves Germany to be called Nazi-country by Greek people 

Talavaj
Talavaj

Oh, so you happened to have watched BBC and CNN when Greek crisis was on the screen ?

Tell me about how you are expert in Politics, Economy and International Relations.

swamptick
swamptick

I can't believe ANYONE would hire a Greek for something economic right now. That's like electing a socialist to improve your economy. It makes no sense.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

Is this when they find out "virtual economies" are completely different to "real economies"? Or is this just a sly way of telling us that you'll be able to buy Steam Bucks to reskin Freemans crowbar?

magicmonkeymatt
magicmonkeymatt

Should anyone be employing GREEK economists right now!?!?!?!?! ............. I jest, I jest! ;)

dubNbass
dubNbass

if it wasnt for greeks you would sleep inside caves you mammals....respect the centre of civilization and its genuine people...goverments and propaganda has nothing to do with greek people.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Give people a lot of bang for their buck and you will make more. People don't want to spend $8 for random items.

KuRf
KuRf

oh great...they employed an economist...FROM A FLOP NATION!!!!

fanaticsm
fanaticsm

Greek....GREEK!!!!!!ummmmm i guess Valve doesnt read the news.....apparently Greece has gone bankrupt.....and they hire a Greek.....is Valve planning to go bankrupt too???

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

They probably need to jump in and make as much money as possible now, before the govt steps in and starts taxing virtual dollars.

DJMist
DJMist

All those comments about Greece...

Do you even know what has happened to Greece and why?

No! You just heard something on the propaganda news by BBC CNN etc.!

You should respect this person, he is a genius in economics, go watch a you tube video of his lectures and you will then understand the scope of his mind.

I am truly surprised that he is going to work for a VG company! (not his usual work place!)

Finally i am also truly disappointed with all this hate and racism against Greece and Greeks in general, from this internet page to online gaming, news and social media in general.

Obviously your teachers did something wrong in your History lessons!

You all remember the Myths but not the actual REAL people who invented the bases for our today's society. Sciences, architecture, literature, medicine, astronomy, Democracy...

Please respect the above.

40 years of corrupted politics cannot erase 2500 years of existence and evolution.  

alien33
alien33

Good luck Yanis!!! I love Steam, so you better help them become even more perfect! :) A fellow Greek

hemoleech
hemoleech

It doesn't take a genius to know that gold farmers greatly inflate game economies. Perhaps with this research they'll figure out a good balance between looting and gold sinks.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am very excited to see what ideas Prof. Varoufakis will bring to Valve. I think EVE is an unique game, but it's not my kind of game so I never got into it to appreciate its economy. Steam, on the other hand, is a big part of my gaming life.

Joeguy00
Joeguy00

I've started to wonder why Valve doesn't use it's popularity of Steam to push digital TV streaming or music. In a non-intrusive way. Like a tab-home button for different content. It'd be great if you and your gf/bf where both logged in for different reasons and you could instant message or share music or movies over a live stream and get status pop-ups like a uber gamer-friendly Facebook with a real use and none of the intrusive advertising crap.

Bamul
Bamul

Can I just say... Greek names are bloody amazing.

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

Want to know about economy.... hires a greek.... smart move?

DespVand
DespVand

Μαγιρέψαμε τα οικονομικά της χωρας μας, τώρα προσφέρουμε τις υπηρεσίες μας και σε εταιρίες, άλλες χώρες, φυσικά και νομικά πρόσωπα... LOL!

Noformation
Noformation

Hopefully he is smarter than he looks.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

Maximizing profits while minimizing customer pain would be a great result of this.

sieg6529
sieg6529

I don't see why there needs to be these alternate currencies.  Paying real money for digital "widgets" seems to be working just fine for now.  Of course, they probably have some models that tell them that the majority of us are dumb enough to pay $10 real dollars for $8 digital V-dollars.  In which case, it's just another case of the gaming community encouraging bad decisions from the industry.  

RapidFirE53211
RapidFirE53211

He got hired by Valve...must be a pretty good economist. Too bad his country couldn't make proper use of his expertise.

Aderdunn_3
Aderdunn_3

Jokes about ''Greek economists'' are as funny as the ones with ''Stupid Americans''! Ohh Wait...No, they are NOT! Having stereotypical beliefs isn't really 'healthy' nowadays! Just sayin' :S 

rarson
rarson

From his blog's "About Me" page:

 

"My initial urge was to study physics but I soon came to the conclusion that the lingua franca of political discourse was economics. Thus, I enrolled at the University of Essex to study the dismal science. However, within weeks of lectures I was aghast at the content of my textbooks and the inane musings of my lecturers. Quite clearly economics was only interested in putting together simplistic mathematical models. Worse still, the mathematics utilised were third rate and, consequently, the economic thinking that emanated from it was atrocious."

 

Ha! Yeah, that accurately describes most college economics programs. I like this guy already.

bdous
bdous

Although right now we are in economic turmoil , people still turn to us for help.

Megawizard
Megawizard

They hired a Greek guy for economics? /rimshot

Scorpion2929
Scorpion2929

Im glad they are hiring experts on the field rather than more lawyers,

Darkflare_EX
Darkflare_EX

I don't know what this all means, but I'm pretty certain hats will be involved in some way.

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

This isn't news. A lot of game companies have economists on their payroll.

nurse_tsunami
nurse_tsunami

Interesting, I'd like to see what kind of parallels he is able to draw between the real and digital world economies.  MMO economies always facinated me since they are entirely player driven for the most part.  Predicting trends on the WoW auction house was pretty fun for me (though I was never as good as the top AH players).  But then again, my degree was in economics :)

Kiro96
Kiro96

I doubt a Greek Economist is the best economist to have right now...

Majkic666
Majkic666

oh and their crappy politic is also fault, aswell as  Greek people in general

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

 @DJMist I couldn't agree more, these people are so uninformed its ridiculous and the amount of harsh comments being made about Greeks is just plain ignorant- and I'm not saying this just because I'm Greek (which I'm not), I just respect them as a country.

the_requiem
the_requiem

 @DJMist I agree lots of ignorant hate is in here, but it adds another layer of irony to it all. First, I agree that he is a brilliant economist, which adds to the irony of him helping out Valve while his own nation is going through economic crisis [no fault of his, I'd say]. Secondly, the hate plays into his self-professed "Ignoramus" status as a gamer. Most haters here have proven to be ignoramus when it comes to economy. Though I won't call them outright ignorant, more like less informed.

rarson
rarson

 @Kiro96

 

You should check out his blog. He's obviously smarter than your average Greek economist.

swamptick
swamptick

 @dubNbass Have you always been an ignorant jackass or is this a recent development?

the_requiem
the_requiem

 @rarson If I were a Greek fan of his I'd feel slighted by this comment. I'd say he is smarter than an average economist, Greek or otherwise. Problems of Greece are more political in origin. What I mean by that is economic decisions being driven by political machinations and compulsions.

dubNbass
dubNbass

 @Majkic666 when someone gets facist behavior and generalize the people due to its goverment and calls them lame i generalize myself that behavior to nazi levels. thank you.