Valve on Steam game trade-ins

Gabe Newell says company moving in a direction "where everything is an item of exchange," needs to understand underlying economics first.

by

Earlier this month, Valve introduced the ability in its Steam game service for users to trade unplayed games among themselves. However, that looks to be just the start of the company's ambitions on that front.

Gabe Newell.

In an interview with Eurogamer published today, Valve founder Gabe Newell talked about the company's longer-term plans for Steam. When asked if players would eventually be able to trade in games through Steam, Newell indicated an interest, but also admitted the company should better understand the concepts in play.

"We think we want to move in the direction where everything is an item of exchange," Newell said. "We just aren't totally sure how to do that right. We're sure there are economists out there who understand this really well. We feel like we're this third-world developing country. We've discovered rocks! And we've discovered sticks! And there's this other thing out there and we should move our economy in that direction. There must be somebody at the World Bank who can tell us what we ought to be doing. We just don't know what that is yet."

Valve's first steps on that path arrived in the form of Steam Trading, a program that lets users exchange in-game items and gifted titles between themselves. The program launched with support for Team Fortress 2 items and games purchased as gifts in the Steam store, but Valve expects to add Portal 2 in-game items to the beta shortly. Once customers purchase a game as a gift (or receive it as an extra copy), they may trade it for the games or virtual items of other users. Any "unopened" gift is fair game for trading, with no restrictions on territory.

Discussion

111 comments
LtReviews
LtReviews

@rapture330 You said EA makes the games. Quoting "They fund, they publish, they make them" I know Portal 2 is made by valve, that was MY point, to prove to you the publisher doesn't make the game. Even if the publisher funds development, they are not actually writing code for the engine. Oh, and a Blizzard North game is a Blizzard North game. Not all the developers working for Blizzard North where folded into Blizzard when the studio disbanded into Blizzard. Blizzard published it a Blizzard North game. 100 percent of the people working for Blizzard North were working on Diablo. Why give credit to people for making Diablo if they were in Blizzard, but not Blizzard North actually doing work? Got it?

raptures330
raptures330

@LtReviews Did you read my post? " EA owns all those studios. They are part of EA." That is like saying if Blizzard North was just called North it isn't a Blizzard game then. Blizzard just funded them and published them. Portal 2 is made by Valve. Not a studio owned by EA. Get it?

LtReviews
LtReviews

@raptures330 No, he is right. EA funds and publishes, they do not make them. Publishing has absolutely nothing to do with the critical developer process. They sell the game. EA published Portal 2 on consoles, but they didn't touch development, they weren't even hired as publishers until development was well underway.

raptures330
raptures330

@Majkic666 Err.. no Those are made by EA. EA owns all those studios. They are part of EA. They fund, publish, and make them. Would be like you separating your heart and kidneys from "your body" because of different names.

Majkic666
Majkic666

@raptures330 not made by EA.... made by other companies and only published by EA

raptures330
raptures330

@Majkic666 Battlefield, Burnout, Deadspace, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Anything Sims related, Skate, SSX... and that not even adding in any of their sports titles.

Jawehawk-DK
Jawehawk-DK

Yay, I would love to trade in my Steam copy of Meto 2033! So much potential, yet the game sucked.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

This article distracted me from saying something angry about Valve.........I think it had to do something with working on a long overdue project.........Oh yeah thats right, WE WANT MEET THE PYRO!

liam82517
liam82517

@Gamer-Geek Depends what you mean by "always". As Im sure being that over weight wont be good for his life expectancy. But hey its good too see all you care about is MONEY!!

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

Good job valve! Sounds like a step in the right direction! Refreshing to see a game company do something smart instead of something greedy!

Killingspree303
Killingspree303

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

TevoxZi
TevoxZi

Old news, yet again.

NeilCardiff
NeilCardiff

Has he been trading games for pies? Deep fried lard anyone?

salad10203
salad10203

I don't think he is considering selling it back to Steam, simply trading it to someone else. That would sort of handle the economics naturally.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I understand what he means, but that was a horrible analogy.

ggregd
ggregd

If you sell your game back to Steam, are they going to sell that same license to someone else and consider it "used" and thus charge less than they're charging for a "new" copy? I can't see where a "used" copy of something digital is worth less than the "new" one. Hence, I don't see any incentive for the publisher to buy back a digital copy of a game. It doesn't happen with music or movies, it won't happen with games. ("Yeaaah... HENCE!") Now that Valve proved it works, all the big publishers are going to set up their own digital delivery serivces - and not just for PC games. We've already seen EA pull their games off Steam so they can sell them themselves on Origin and not pay a cut to Valve. I'm pretty sure we'll never see games traded or sold between services. So all these seperate services will be a confusing nightmare for the consumer. And in the end I still see a market for GameStop to buy and sell used physical games as long as publishers keep selling physical copies. Which then again, is not, by any means, a given.

offspring94
offspring94

AAWWWW YEEAAAHHHH!!!! I'm not actually likely to use this feature (I don't even use Steam), but this is a very welcome gesture. Its seems that some game company finds a new way to restrict the gamer's freedom every week, such as Blizzard's requirements for a constant Internet connection or EA's spyware-styled EULA. The fact that Newell is TRYING to set up a model that actually EXPANDS gamers' freedom is excellent news, even if it isn't relevant to me personally.

deathblow3
deathblow3

i like this idea i guess MechaNapoleon works for ea lol.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

If Valve can find a way to for gamer's to sell the games they've bought to other players through a license exchange, then this could be a really cool step forward. It would benefit the publishers of the games by sending repeatable profits to them for each used game sold. It would benefit gamer's because they could buy used licenses of games from other gamer's at a discounted price similar to buying a used disc from GameStop.

jamyskis
jamyskis

@LtReviews I don't doubt that they have discussed the trading system with publishers, but at the end of the day, Valve has the commercial clout to enforce their wishes to a certain extent, the reason being that its market share of the digital market enables it to damage the sales of any company large or small. Either accept Valve's terms or lose a potential and substantial chunk of change. Of course, Valve seems to have been more than reasonable with this market clout, but at the end of the day its a benefit that I doubt they been loathe to use, whether its for the benefit of the community, of themselves, or of the publishers. And my choice of "antipathy" is distinct from "hate". I don't hate Valve or Steam; in fact, I appreciate what they have done for the market. It's just that I don't like Steam's DRM, I don't like the rather vague and publisher-sided SSA and, as I mentioned, I don't like the pricing policy. I should mention though that I DO hate Activision, Blizzard and EA. I've turned into a indie games man myself (my primary reason for using Steam).

LtReviews
LtReviews

@jamyskis You really think Steam would move forward with an entirely new implementation of trading without conferring with publishers? There was an article out during the EA controversy. Instead of flaming EA for taking their games off Steam; Gabe Newell came out and said that it was Valve's job to make their service hospitable to publishers, and to try and make Steam an attractive service that publishers want to be on. He didn't just scoff and say "your loss" And why do you have a deap-seated Anti-pathy towards Valve and Steam. I can probably understand if you don't like Steam if you are living in the Eurozone, because of the pricing problem; but "antipathy"? Sure, Valve isn't perfect- but we've been getting screwed so much by Activision, Blizzard, and EA lately, it is nice to see a company that has a good, equal rapport with its consumers.

vadicta
vadicta

That would be cool. Although, I'm not really sure how that would work... You trade your game into Steam, and Valve gives you money for it, sure, but you can't buy digital products used. So then, where is Valve making its money back?

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I'm not really sure how they'd do this either...I'm not too worried about it, I probably wouldn't want to trade my games away anyway...

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

I wonder if Steam trades pissed EA off enough to yank some of their games...

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Like I said, Used games are bad until they do it. Developers are just mad they didn't figure out how to do it first when it comes to trade-ins and the second hand market. Game Stop and other retail stores turned it into an essential to their industry and game developers/consumers barely raised a stink. Blockbuster? Not a peep. Gamefly? Where was the outcry when it first came onto the scene? Now that it is a hugely profitable business, they're furious because they didn't try it something similar and they can't do anything about it because it's legal so then they come up with these sketchy DRM and systems were you only get part of a game unless you buy new and then blame it on places like Game Stop. And the only reason fans raise a stink is because the developers, who normally don't care that much about the consumer, tell them sob stories. But lo and behold. Here we have Valve thinking about doing it.

jamyskis
jamyskis

@Richardthe3rd The fact that you term yourself a Hammer Legion member is something I find interesting, because I've always found the term Hammer Legion to be associated with those unreasonable brats that will call people a "consoletard", a pirate or worse for daring to criticise Steam. Your response, on the other hand, is perfectly well-reasoned, civil and sensible. You're less what one would refer to as Hammer Legion and more a classical Steam fan. You accept that Steam has its flaws but still prefer it above any other service for legitimate reasons that apply to you. And that's fine - each to their own. I guess it's like being in love. True love is when you accept someone in spite of their flaws. An unhealthy obsession is when you rabidly refuse to accept that those flaws are there ;-)

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

well its a good start. but they would really make everyone love them if you could actually trade games that you already played. that would be like heaven for us gamers

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

@cbeck002 no your right Steam is Sexy!!

cbeck002
cbeck002

I hate to call myself a fanboy, but Steam is just so sexy right now lol.

shadow580
shadow580

Where is this man's neck? Let the flaming commence.

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

@callingtonuk I think you hit the nail on the head then. You see it again and again, be it in the game industry, the car industry (examples including Mercedes and Ford), communications, etc: when companies focus on customers they create a better product and generate more business. When they focus on just pleasing shareholders as EA and Activision have been doing, their products suffer, and that isn't sustainable forever. I'm glad to see that at least one major player in the industry isn't blaming used games as some kind of evil bogeyman that will destroy everything, because used games have been around for as long as there have been games. The real issue is more complex, including problems with DRM (Steam's not perfect either, but much better than EA/Activision), DLC preventing consumer dollars from going towards a variety of properties, and lack of innovation. To be honest, I have no clue how this system would work, but it's good to see they're at least considering it regardless.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@jamyskis As a member of the Steam hammer legion... point taken. Some of us do get a little over-exuberant about the service. I think it has a bit to do with the fact that Steam as a service seems to keep their customers in mind, but they certainly aren't perfect and there's certainly room for improvement. Also, there are people like swamptick in this particular thread, that do the opposite and bash Steam without good reason, effectively baiting people (like me) into gushing defensive responses.

Gamer-Geek
Gamer-Geek

@liam82517 and will always be richer than you

jollybest1
jollybest1

@MechaNapoleon in economics they call this barter (or in my language troc =schimb de produse în natură, fără intervenția banilor, cea mai primitiva metoda de comert)exchanging a product that has the same value as the one that you excange it with, this is the oldest way to exchange services/products for your benefit without using currency, this thing is done with no problem without implications and without no one knowing about it except for the parts that are involved, you can exchange anything any game without any company knowing, what steam/valve is doing is not bad for the companies (this things happen as we speak)....................maybe is better this way , this way you can know how many will do it and why although they should control this because it can get out of control but if i know Steam they will do the best they can to make it work for them the companies and their clients... i am collecting games so i am out of this kind of thing but many do this

DarxPhil
DarxPhil

Gabe Newell looks like a straight up G in the picture.

jamyskis
jamyskis

Christ...if there's one thing that winds me up about Steam... It's not Gabe Newell, who I see to be a pretty decent guy. It's not the online activation, which sucks but is handled better than most DRM systems. It's not even the way we EU users (and Australian users too) get shafted on price and how it's way more expensive for retail titles than retail itself. It's the rabid nature of the Steam fanbase, who will throw insults at you any time you dare to criticise Steam, Valve or Gabe Newell. I see they're out in full force here too, thumbing down anyone who dares commit blasphemy. Man, it's worse than the Capcom lot. Thankfully the Hammer Legionnaires are a minority on the Steam forums - a vocal minority, to be said, but still a minority.

Majkic666
Majkic666

@ahpuck why dont you just contact steam support? i have downloaded the game twice the last 3 months without any problems, and maybe you should change your settings in your client and fix your computer + internet connection...

swiftsilk
swiftsilk

Ive been using Steam since 2003 when it started, wonderful service great connectivity with freinds, Steam will always be number 1 in my book

Majkic666
Majkic666

@raptures330 Not really.... they dont make the games they mainly just publish them and many of them are not good, but just some rushed games...

raptures330
raptures330

@collingtonuk Release games on a regular basis?

swamptick
swamptick

Go to your local used game store for trading games. Steam is horrible.

kweeni
kweeni

I saw Gabe at Gamescom. Took a pic.

collingtonuk
collingtonuk

@shani_boy101 Yup, 100% agree. I hated Steam at the start when it was forced upon us with the CS 1.6 update but I have grown to love it for its versatility, ease of use and reliability. Valve seem to be a customer centered company while EA are a shareholder centered company, I can't think of a single thing EA do better.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

This is why competing services like Origin will never gain traction, regardless of how aggressive they are. Steam improves it's service for customer benefit, while still raking in huge profits. Origin would never even consider doing anything like this, that's why it fails.

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

Valve is like the Apple of game companies, and Steam is the iTunes. I'll never care for either one

Kickable
Kickable

"Asheileon Posted Aug 26, 2011 3:04 am CT Steam has never been a let down to me personally so I applaud there initiative on a new front. I don't play blizzard games so I can't speak for them but in my experience as a PC-gamer Valve is the only game maker out there that constantly maintains, upgrades and improves its games, and on top of that for free. Many games on Steam are even totally free to play, so honestly I don't get how some hate steam" IMO Blizzard maintains/upgrades WoW pretty steadily. i've definately seen more bugs in WoW than TF2, but WoW is on such a larger scale it's hard to get everythign right. if you see complaining about something Blizzard changed, it's usually just personal opinion about a game balance tweak or something. i don't mind Steam interface, but I can definately see how some can hate it. there are plenty of PC gamers who remember when they just had to open up the game and play, nothing extra. yea we know there's an offline mode. it still should be a choice to either use it or not. the whole argument about Steam being necessary for DRM is pretty irrelevant too, all Steam games get cracked anyway, Steam just delays it a few days

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

@MechaNapoleon OMG, Bobby kotick has a Gamespot account!! Run for your money!!