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Valve on Steam Trade-Ins

An interview with Valve's Gabe Newell on Eurogamer talks with the Valve boss about a variety of topics, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the future of the company. An item of particular interest, as noted by GameSpot, is his answer to whether he foresees ever allowing gamers to trade-in used games on Steam. Here's his response:

We need to hire an economist, because we keep bumping up into these issues. You're starting to look at weird issues like currency and inflation and productivity and asset values and liquidity of asset categories. We just wish we were smarter about this stuff. We're reading frantically. We're brushing up, and all we're doing is convincing ourselves that we're more stupid. Half the time people are saying, oh, well, illiquid assets inherently have a penalty, so this argues for trade-ability, that we're essentially becoming a Russian currency model in the 1970s. Everybody races off to try to read papers on the implications of that.

We think we want to move in the direction where everything is an item of exchange. 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.

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36. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 17:16 Sepharo
 
Agree 100% great post, thanks Teddy.  
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35. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 16:54 Teddy
 
RollinThundr wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 12:10:
Isn't he talking about the same thing you guys lament Gamestop for over and over? Being greedy in looking to remove the publisher/Developer from revenue by offering used game sales?

I don't see them saying anywhere that they plan on selling "used" games to anyone. How could a digital copy ever be considered "used" in the first place?

What I see is them talking about the possibility of trading in old games on your steam list. So whether or not it's the same thing as Gamestop is not even remotely clear. Not until they suggest at any point that they mean to try and make a profit from reselling the license to one of those games.

The way I conceive it, it's more a simple concept of removing a game from your steam library for a discount on another game. As a legacy concept, it makes sense, benefitting the user with a discount and the company by not running into enormous game lists for all their users simply because they retain access to every game they ever bought on the system over many many years.

The comment he made was vague and far from an actual product or concept that they're actively implementing. If they do decide to look into it further, then we'll know.

Swear Valve and Blizzard could sell babies on the black market and still be excused for it from gamers.

And I swear, Valve or Blizzard could make a completely innocuous comment when asked a question in an interview and you'd try to put them on trial for it.

You're jumping to conclusions with zero information to back them up.
 
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34. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 16:52 Enahs
 
killer_roach wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 13:45:
Enahs wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 13:39:
This is just a silly concept, by name. The whole argument is flawed.

With a boxed copy, I own that box and game disc. I can break the game disc, use it to play the game, etc.

With digital distribution, you do not own the game; you have a license to use the game on your system.

The real name for "trading digitally distributed items" is actually called RENTING! And you do not need an economists to explain renting to you.....

All right, guys... who let Richard Stallman get online?

If you think you don't need economists to figure this one out, then coming up with a pricing model should be pretty simple, right?

(This oughta be fun)

I do not really get your comment about Stallman? Where did I say things should be free? To simplify for you, " when not involved in illegal activity, returning something you do not own but paid money for is called renting". There are plenty of valid economic models for renting out there; it is not complicated. Why call it trade-in and come up with fancy names and economics and all this complicated stuff and try and confuse the consumer and such and call it what it is, renting. Everybody understands renting. It is not a hard concept to grasp.
 
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I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
- W. C. Fields
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33. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 16:28 Tumbler
 
It'd be interesting to see Steam offer users the ability to trade vs sell or buy. So if I want to buy Battlefield Bad Company 2 for the pc then I go look at who wants to trade that and if I have what he/she wants then the licenses simply transfer between our accounts. Maybe a $1 fee or something.

Or if the stuff they want is stuff I have to buy it simply charges my card for the games I need to complete that trade.

This could be a great two way street for everyone, people are going to buy your game in order to trade it to others for something they have. And older games would become almost worthless very quick. IE no one is going to trade for Borderlands GOTY when it's been on sale for $7.50.

You could limit the number of trades if necessary so that there wouldn't be this huge question mark as far as how good/bad this will be.

At very least the people paying $50-$60 for new games should have this ability one time. Paying full price at launch is kind of ridiculous. If that came with the ability to trade it one time that would make that price easier to stomach. If they implemented a one time trade on certain purchases I think they should be able to list them for sale and pay a fee to steam for the transfer. Steam can work out what, if any, dollars go back to the devs. The devs have been paid in my book, they dont deserve a penny but they control how the content is sold into steam in the first place so I guess they need to be included.
 
99gamers.com-Game trading site, PC digital trading!
Kickstarter "Game Developer"!
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32. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 15:33 ^Drag0n^
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 14:40:
RollinThundr wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 12:10:
Isn't he talking about the same thing you guys lament Gamestop for over and over? Being greedy in looking to remove the publisher/Developer from revenue by offering used game sales?

Swear Valve and Blizzard could sell babies on the black market and still be excused for it from gamers.

Who argues for that? Gamers want to sell used games. If it hurts Gamestop well, sucks to be Gamestop. If developers/publishers think they deserve profit after profit then they're extremely short-sighted - and it sucks to be them too.

Believe it or not, I actually have no problem with the publisher/Dev getting a slice of the resale. In fact, I think that is a good thing, because it will provide a metric not just on what games sell, but what games endure, and what their perceived value is over time.

I also believe that part of what is being sold is the "experience" the game gives an individual, and when itcomes to games like Deus Ex, fallout, and the like, I really would like to see a Dev rewarded for "replay value," because those revs deserve long term survival.

IMO.

^D^
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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31. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 14:40 Silicon Avatar
 
RollinThundr wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 12:10:
Isn't he talking about the same thing you guys lament Gamestop for over and over? Being greedy in looking to remove the publisher/Developer from revenue by offering used game sales?

Swear Valve and Blizzard could sell babies on the black market and still be excused for it from gamers.

Who argues for that? Gamers want to sell used games. If it hurts Gamestop well, sucks to be Gamestop. If developers/publishers think they deserve profit after profit then they're extremely short-sighted - and it sucks to be them too.
 
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30. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 14:29 ^Drag0n^
 
No, he's just making the same MISTAKE Gamestop did.

Hey, Gabe, I want to be able to sell or give the games I no longer play to others on Steam. Don't muddy it up with trade-in value. Let us set the price, and you guys take a commission off the top for the service.

Simple.

^D^
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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29. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 13:45 killer_roach
 
Enahs wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 13:39:
This is just a silly concept, by name. The whole argument is flawed.

With a boxed copy, I own that box and game disc. I can break the game disc, use it to play the game, etc.

With digital distribution, you do not own the game; you have a license to use the game on your system.

The real name for "trading digitally distributed items" is actually called RENTING! And you do not need an economists to explain renting to you.....

All right, guys... who let Richard Stallman get online?

If you think you don't need economists to figure this one out, then coming up with a pricing model should be pretty simple, right?

(This oughta be fun)
 
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28. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 13:39 Enahs
 
This is just a silly concept, by name. The whole argument is flawed.

With a boxed copy, I own that box and game disc. I can break the game disc, use it to play the game, etc.

With digital distribution, you do not own the game; you have a license to use the game on your system.

The real name for "trading digitally distributed items" is actually called RENTING! And you do not need an economists to explain renting to you.....
 
Avatar 15513
 
I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
- W. C. Fields
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27. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 13:37 saluk
 
Eh, he has a point. There is not much precedent for reselling or trading digital goods back. And if they were tradable, it would increase value of the product, which might be a bad thing. I think being able to buy a pack of 12 games for 5$ at the next sale is a better deal for me than having to pay full price but being able to trade it back for some discount.

And game publishers are working to thwart the used games market as it exists for console titles, so things seem to be moving in the opposite direction in general.

I have a load of steam titles I would trade back if I could though. There's some good in there, but also an awful lot of crap.
 
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26. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 12:30 Kastagir
 
Just what the gaming industry needs. More economists. You know, there's a reason why I haven't purchased a single Valve title since HL2. It's this guy.  
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25. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 12:10 RollinThundr
 
Isn't he talking about the same thing you guys lament Gamestop for over and over? Being greedy in looking to remove the publisher/Developer from revenue by offering used game sales?

Swear Valve and Blizzard could sell babies on the black market and still be excused for it from gamers.
 
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24. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 11:29 Silicon Avatar
 
I wouldn't mind be able to trade in old games for store credit.

Sadly I'd probably just spend it in the Mann Co. store.

Any decent accountant can look at a sales trend graph and see how much to depreciate a piece of software. The "we need an economist" argument is silly. I can understand what Gabe is worried about though. Software never wears out. It gets more unpopular as time goes by, but they've already got that covered with their "deep discount" sales.

Valve might allow exchange eventually. It probably won't be that great of a deal, but if you've got a few crap games and can turn it into a half-off discount for a decent one then it's still better than nothing.

 
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23. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 10:34 DDI
 
I think the constant age gate is a small price to pay to keep anti videogame zealots off our backs. Other sites do it too.

Who the fuck is so destitute that they need to sell used pc games, which is something you rarely could do for years? Give it a fucking rest, it's not realistic. You don't own the game, you owe a license to the game. Whine about it all you want but software has been working like that forever.
 
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22. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 06:59 Dev
 
Icewind wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 06:56:
Nate wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 03:04:
If you can re-sell your downloaded games then the developers and publishers will start charging more up front. They will also start doing other things to make you want to purchase new rather than purchase used.

Gabe must know this. Its not complicated. I expect never to be able to re-sell a downloaded game. Doesn't bother me.

^

This ended the discussion. Period.

Read that, countered that. Period.
 
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21. removed Aug 27, 2011, 06:59 Icewind
 
* REMOVED *
This comment was deleted on Aug 28, 2011, 17:10.
 
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20. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 06:56 Icewind
 
Nate wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 03:04:
If you can re-sell your downloaded games then the developers and publishers will start charging more up front. They will also start doing other things to make you want to purchase new rather than purchase used.

Gabe must know this. Its not complicated. I expect never to be able to re-sell a downloaded game. Doesn't bother me.

^

This ended the discussion. Period.
 
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19. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 06:16 Zefalephelah
 
Creston wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 00:39:
Nothing wrong with admitting you don't know anything.

Creston

First of all, they are pumping out the shit so fast even waste-recyling plants are wondering what the fuck. Valve doesn't know anything about economics???? Just think about how powerful steam is to pretty much all game distributers. They are playing dumb. If you don't get that, then you're dumber than I thought (and I already had you rated at far below 100 IQ as it was).

Secondly, you signed your name again. You do it every fucking time. How about you just move your eyes slightly to the right and realize that it ALREADY SAYS CRESTON!!! It's like you're writing us a love letter or something... "love Creston".... it's pathetic.

Finally, what the hell is that butt ugly avatar and why did you choose it?
 
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18. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 06:11 Dev
 
Nate wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 03:04:
If you can re-sell your downloaded games then the developers and publishers will start charging more up front. They will also start doing other things to make you want to purchase new rather than purchase used.

Gabe must know this. Its not complicated. I expect never to be able to re-sell a downloaded game. Doesn't bother me.
a) Depends on how it works. If gabe gives a cut of each trade in to the publisher they will jump up and down for joy that they'd get a cut. And if valve doesn't sell "used" copies as well, just offers steam wallet trade in credit, that solves the selling used copy thing that gamestop likes to do and the pubs and devs all get upset about.
Valve would have to work out the logistics of the CD key thing, games with layered copy protection and limited activations would have a problem getting tied to another account, whereas ones with just steam protection probably wouldn't. Plus there's games where you use that serial to register a special forum account (egosoft did/does that for instance) that would have to be looked at.

b) gamestop with its used game sales has already driven publishers to do things like that. Its called DLC.

c) Yes, it IS complicated. In addition to the few issues I mentioned that I can think of off the top of my head, there's problems with trying to make sure they don't cannibalize other sales. It would be partly fixed with only offering credit and no "used " game sales, but they'd still possibly have less "new" money coming into the system. It wouldnt' be worth it if doing this decreases the "new" money coming in. Gamestop addresses this by charging near retail prices for used copies and giving crap credit for trad-ins, so they screw people coming and going on used game sales and constantly have a large influx of "new" money. Incidentally this cannibalization is the reason why companies tend to sell digital copies for almost the same price as retail copies when they are released. They don't want to cannibalize retail sales. Regardless of what Gabe knows or doesn't know, or if he's playing dumb, this IS a complicated issue. Doing it wrong could be a huge logistical nightmare and kill valve as a company.

Stolk wrote on Aug 27, 2011, 02:07:
Or that it makes no sense that I have to re-confirm my age to view a screenshot of a game I already own, but the program has no problem giving automatic access to my credit cards for any purchases with two clicks?
One of the MANY things that irks me about steam. WTF do I have to enter that continually? Let me put in a birthday into my account and remember it from them on, OMG.

Oh and how about letting me do a search in my user list, port that game library list search function over, probably take like 15 mins.

Valve needs to hire some dedicated UI guys instead of just letting everyone work on stuff thats interesting to them.

This comment was edited on Aug 27, 2011, 07:06.
 
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17. Re: Valve on Steam Trade-Ins Aug 27, 2011, 05:42 xXBatmanXx
 
Couple things I would like to see:

Talk to the guys at Green Man Gaming, they offer trade ins.

Allow me to gift anything I buy that I have a dupe of, not just CERTAIN games. That sucks.
 
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Buy from GreenManGaming? Use this, we both get $2.00 - http://www.greenmangaming.com/?gmgr=purutuwi
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