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Valve's Gabe Newell: Better Service Key To Piracy Fight, Free-To-Play Works

Posted by: , 22:04 AEDT, Tue October 25, 2011

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Gabe Newell explains why providing better service to gamers is better than using DRM to fight piracy, while promotes the idea that "free-to-play" games can make money


Valve's Gabe Newell says the "easiest way to stop piracy" is by providing the same services pirates have been providing gamers, and that this will be more effective than using technological measures to prevent piracy.

Newell told audiences at the North to Innovation conference in Seattle that the piracy problems is partially due to developer and publisher's not providing the ease of use gamers require, with gamers having to resort to pirated versions to satisfy their needs.

Speaking specifically about the Russian market, which was once known as a haven for pirates, is now Steam's second most profitable continental European market. And Newell says that this is due to making localization a priority, by releasing a Russian language version of games before the pirates are able to, and criticised publishers for not doing enough for the Russian market before "The people who are telling you that Russians pirate everything are the people who wait six months to localize their product into Russian," said Newell.

Newell also re-iterated Valve's support of the "free-to-play" business model, where games are released for free to gamers, with purchasable in-game items and transactions providing the revenue stream. While publishers have often scoffed at this particular revenue model, due to what they say are low conversion rates (typically 1 to 3 percent of gamers actually buy something in-game), Newell says their stats for the free-to-play game Team Fortress 2 says otherwise. "We see about a 20 to 30 percent conversion rate of people who are playing those games who buy something", Newell added, but did point out that the high conversion rate was a bit of a mystery to him as well. "All we know is we’re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us."



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