Valve Chimes In on UGC And Microtransactions

Valve puts forward their own games, DOTA 2 and TF2, as examples of how to do these game mechanics right.

For Day 2 of SteamDevDays, Valve also covered the topics of UGC (user generated content) and microtransactions, using their own games as examples, namely Team Fortress 2 and Defense Of The Ancients 2.

Valve believes that microtransactions can be compatible with player happiness. In fact, keeping customers happy is key to them making more money. Having said that, they believe current microtransaction systems have the opposite effect, training them not to spend money at all.

Valve thinks pay to win is OK, but not if it makes the game less fun for other people. The company pushes a ‘Regret test’, explaining that if they find users regret using a feature or a system, it has failed this test.

Valve has provided these recommendations on how to set up an in-game economy:

·         Focus on persistent customer value

·         Create positive externalities

·         Make everything tradable

·         Distribute value randomly

·         Let users make value for each other

Speaking of letting users make value for each other, Valve also believes in user generated content. They feel it gives players a way to express themselves and opens up opportunities for the game. They also feel that UGC differentiates video games from books and movies.

Valve has put forward DayZ from Arma as a sample case for UGC. They then talk about how Team Fortress 2 was their 1st game which used the Steam Workshop, back in 2011. With the workshop, players were able to upload and rate each other’s content. The actual dev team then looked at the top picks.

In Valve’s words, “User generated content is a vision of the game not restricted by the developer's resources.”

Valve argues that people will be modding successful games anyway, so it’s best to help them so they can make it better for everyone. Lastly, they pointed out that the launch of the DOTA 2 Steam Workshop did not lead to a decrease in TF2 workshop activity. Instead, the modding community as a whole simply grew in scope.

Image is from TF2's Steam Workshop.