Most people’s gut reaction to seeing a USD 34.99 item in the Dota 2 store is “What? For ONE Item?” I had the same initial reaction. I suspect that many of my followers did too. Especially the huge chunk of awesome people in the Philippines, where USD34.99 is 20% of the average monthly income there. But, I believe that Valve has taken the right step forward with this move. Disagree? Then, hear me out.

Image from Valve’s Official Dota 2 Blog

Better price stability for buyers
By providing it at a fixed price, buyers can obtain it without worrying about its trade market value. They don’t need to rush to buy it, regret missing out on an earlier cheaper deal or feel bad if its value decreases.

The current situation makes it possible for traders to hoard rare items and heavily influence the market by limiting the supply. It sometimes might get worse if they are successful in manipulating the prices. For example, a trader once told me that he was even buying and selling TI2 couriers to himself to jack up the price. In a matter of months, the courier jumped from something like USD 100 to USD 200.

More income and stability for artists

Artists do not have the same opportunity to earn if we keep all items at a relative price to each other. There is a market for luxury items in Dota 2. By keeping all prices low in the store, we are not keeping it low for everyone who wants an item and traders benefit the most from this.

Instead, we should allow artists to tap into different markets of buyers to reap the benefits, rather than benefits ending up with someone who simply had the money and patience to hoard tons of items.

More income and stability for communities and event organizers

Since some communities and event organizers have been and probably will produce more store items, they will also benefit from tapping into another market.

As a person who has seen the community and organizing side of things, a constant flow of income to continue great work is hard to come by. Additional income is much needed, rather than relying on sponsorship and investments.

Sustainability of continued development and improvement of Dota 2

Dota 2 is a free-to-play game. You don’t need to spend money at all. While Valve has deep pockets, we surely understand that they need to cover the costs, as well as make it worth their time. Valve is one of my favorite companies and I love how they work. I look forward to seeing more improvements in Dota 2 and other games.

I believe that there will always be free items and a wide price range available when it comes to items. I do not think all items will suddenly become more expensive.

Overall improvement to the eSports and gaming communities

Tapping into an existing market to make more for development, as well as provide more sustainability to artists, organizers and communities helps more than just Dota 2 and Valve. It is a successful and much more sustainable business model for both the game developer and involved communities. Besides that, Dota 2 and Valve are paving the way for gaming to be more respectable.

In a nutshell, Valve is simply acknowledging that there is an existing demand for higher-priced and more complicated products. They are taking advantage of this market to benefit everyone. Rather than leaving it untapped and that money going into the pockets of traders, rather than artists, organizers, communities or Valve itself to strengthen Dota2, eSports and the gaming community.

Where I think Valve can improve on in the area of items is supporting more contests and giveaways with these amazing items. We had very little to offer back in DotA days. It would be an awesome way to give talented/lucky people a chance to get an item they can’t afford. It also helps promote the gaming community that is running it.

Now, on the details of how many changes “Arcana” rarity should have, I haven’t looked into changes it makes yet. But this is a separate issue from whether there should be items that are higher-priced.

 

YouTube video of iceiceice playing (By noobfromua)

3 Responses

  1. Ehpek

    So it looks like you are overly concerned with traders and artists getting paid for their work. While I agree that these issues need to be dealt with, I would argue that this isn’t the way to go about it. If traders are the reason for increasing the price of something then doesn’t the fact that it’s not a limited time item and is just an always available store item make it less valuable to traders? I won’t pretend to be involved in the trader market, but while i’m sure it’s large the amount of players that don’t get into trading and reselling is much larger. Thus if the item is not limited and will always be on the shop, why not lower the price down to maybe $20? This still puts it within a decent price point and with a lower price more people will buy it, thus putting more money into the pockets of the artists.

    Previously the most expensive single bundle was $18 (the owlion set for mirana) before that it was $15 and that included the Windrunner sets that changed her animations and particle effects for her Power Shot ability. Suddenly something that changes a bit more artwork and particle effects for a character and only gives them a custom head and no other items is over $15 MORE than those previously? It doesn’t make sense from a consumers stand point. You aren’t making a high end rare item, because that’s what the items from events are for and also the items from the monthly special chests that Valve are releasing. Those can be points of rarity and high end demand.

    This item doesn’t support the tournament organizers either, if it did then wouldn’t it be tied to a ticket for the event? Much like the couriers are currently for TPL, The Defense, and Starladder? Also to that extent doesn’t this set a poor precedent for this going forward if they decide to include these arcana sets in with tickets? Now a ticket that was once $4 is now $40, how much of that actually goes back to the artist and then to the event? Because you know Valve needs to take their cut (and rightfully so, I’m not arguing that point)

    My over all point is this: there have already been sets for cheaper that get extremely close to what this set does, from a consumer standpoint it feels like a money grab and actually will cost the artists to make less money because less people will buy them. Hopefully this is something that Valve will be aware of and find ways to combat traders other than arbitrarily increasing the price of digital goods.

    Reply
  2. dpmlicious

    Thanks for taking the time to express your opinion on it. I wrote this because my initial reaction was “WTF! SO EXPENSIVE!”, then I thought about it and realized that it is a good move. I wanted to share these thoughts, so that people with the same initial reaction can consider them. I expected no replies on my blog, since there is already lots of discussion going on about it in forums where people can discuss it with each other. So, I appreciate this response that shares your views. Let me respond to you and I hope that I can clarify my points in doing so. 🙂

    First, let me clarify that my article is about how tapping into this more valuable item market will benefit many different parties. It is not about whether the Lina item itself is worth $35. I also know that it does not directly support a tournament organizer and did not state that.

    Second, I am not “overly” concerned about artists getting paid for their work. What I am stating is that people are already buying items for USD 40 – 200 on a daily basis. But the people who benefit from these trades are mostly the traders. Good for them, but I’d rather see that money go to the people who created the items or back into our community. The issue is that there are no readily available really cool and highly valued items on the store for USD 30/40 bucks, so people with money to spend and want something really awesome go ahead and spend hundreds anyway.

    There is a market for more valuable and higher-priced items. Trades worth USD 40 are a common site on trading sites. Numerous of these transactions happen daily. It is just like any other market. We don’t expect the car industry to only produce at one price point or jewellery to be the same price.

    Setting a lower price, does not necessarily mean that more will be earned. The economics are much more complicated that than. Different people buy things for different reasons. Sometimes setting something at a lukewarm price would make it too high for others, but not elite enough for status-buyers. There are many other things to take into account besides that.

    I do not believe high end items should only be limited to chests. The beauty about digital items is that there is so much room for creativity and creating beauty. Some can be available via chests and some at the store. Some people prefer opening chests and some like buying items from the store. We’re all different in our preferences. It is limiting them to chests only making some couriers cost over USD400 in the trading market.

    Such high-priced items can support tournament organizers if it comes from them. It does not need to be tied to a ticket, for example you had The Defense 2 chests. (As I mentioned, I was not saying that this Lina item directly gives back to any organizer). In addition, such organizers and other communities might have a contractor or in-house artist and have items that are not tied to tournaments.

    I highly doubt that an organizer choose to bundle a high-priced item with a ticket. These more valuable items are meant for more of a niche market. I believe organizers would also foresee the backlash from the community for trying to impose an expensive forced purchase.

    I hope this has helped clarify my view. Once again, I am not trying to justify the price on this particular Lina item. I am also not saying that this Lina item is directly benefiting an organizer. My point is there is a market and many people can gain from this Valve move.

    My article is not focused on whether this particular item is worth $35, but rather that there is room for an item at that price in the Dota 2 store. So, if you feel that this particular item is not worth $35, you could be correct. I have not thought about it nor experienced the item myself.
    It is better to have a wide variety of options. Cheaper doesn’t necessarily translate to more sales.

    Honestly, I understand from tons of people’s point of view that it is too expensive. That was my initial reaction too. However, I can appreciate that there is a market for it.

    Like many other markets, there are different sub-markets. I believe it is beneficial to have a wide range of items with different price points. No one tries to limit the car industry and say that we should only produce affordable cars that function in a certain way. Certain restaurants are more expensive. Jewelry isn’t priced the same across the board.

    So, perhaps there can be items worth $20 and some worth $35. My post wasn’t about whether the $35 was justified for what that particular Lina item gives. It is about the concept that there is room for more valuable products.

    EDIT: Btw, you mentioned you’re interested in talking more about it. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the reddit thread. I read some opinions, but not all. There is also an interesting question about how far will Arcana items go being discussed there as well as the dev.dota2.com forum. I think I will have a look at that topic tomorrow.

    Reply
  3. Paulo Correa

    Hello DPM! First of all, thanks for giving me my first key one year ago! Love ya! :3
    About this new range of price, i don’t think it’s wrong BUT, you gotta think about the benefits of having one. I think this particular item is overpriced and if Valve continues to create items which have high prices and not much benefits, it will generate the opposite of what they want. With $35 i can buy some games at steam! Is this fair? I believe most players will think not. Meanwhile i believe we need much more items, that are hard to obtain so you can keep players interested in it. Dota now is not only a game where you play one match and goes away, you need to keep players attention, curiosity and even so his desire to be different from the others. Valve could ask the community what they believe what is fair and what each level of rareness can make ingame. I won’t buy this lina item, too expensive btw. XD

    Reply

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