Gabe’s Gamble: Valve Gets Its Own Economist

By Nathan Grayson on June 16th, 2012 at 10:31 am.

Valve, of course, 'forgot' to tell Varoufakis about the mandatory eye implant until the hiring process was complete.

Remember when Valve said it was looking to hire all sorts of people from every walk of life – from lowly programmers to the giant-bow-tie-wearingest of fungineers? Well, one bit in there stood out: “And if you’re a first-class economist,” Michael Abrash wrote, ”please check us out. You’ll have a sandbox with 40 million users, and I promise you’ll never be bored.” Well, apologies to RPS’ substantial audience of budding TF2 hat economists. That position, you see, has officially been filled.

Newly minted Valve economist-in-residence Yanis Varoufakis explained in a blog post:

“While a total ignoramus of the world of video games, the people at Valve and I discerned a double coincidence of interests. My academic curiosity blended nicely into Valve’s burning desire to serve its gaming community better, through the development of services that are in tune with the community’s needs as gamers but also as traders, developers, participants in something much bigger than just video games.”

“By studying Valve’s economy, we would have an opportunity to enhance the experience of its customers, in addition to sharpening my own thinking about what makes real economies tick. And as if all this were not enough, there was another incentive thrown into the mix: the opportunity to understand better the remarkable social organisation of production within Valve itself.”

Apparently, there’ll be weekly reports of Valve’s economic discoveries if you’re into that sort of thing. If not, though, I have to imagine you’ll still probably be seeing some off-the-wall sales experiments on, say, Steam, TF2, or DOTA 2 before too long.

Granted, this isn’t the first time a game company’s hired its own economist (hello, EVE Online), but it’s quite a different thing to see the single biggest seller of PC games ever in history begin to seek the greenest pastures in which our wallets roam. And while cynical sorts might see this as some scheme to put customers on a juicer and squeeze our bank accounts dry, that’s never really been Valve’s style.

Moreover, Varoufakis – a professor at the University of Athens, among other things – seems driven by curiosity more than anything else. So – weird as it is to say this – I doubt Valve’s decision to analyze money is being driven entirely by, well, money. As for where it’ll end up, that’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps RPS should hire an economist that analyzes other economists. And one day, when our children’s children sit on our laps and ask us how we finally figured out Episode 3′s release date, we’ll prompt shocked whispers and silent reverence with a single phrase: business trends.

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186 Comments »

  1. Real Horrorshow says:

    It’s far fetched but I hope this doesn’t spell doom for crazy sales and $50 Valve games (as opposed to $60)

    • Lemming says:

      It won’t, because those kind of things are the reason they’ve hired an economist. Gabe has talked before about how the sales surprised them by how much extra revenue they make, and that it isn’t consistent with known marketing and economics strategies.

      • mandrill says:

        Erm, no?

        Assuming supply that scales with demand (which Valve’s model allows):
        Lower prices = Increased demand
        Increased demand = increased sales
        increased sales = increased revenue
        Distribution and production costs remain the same (more or less) while revenue increases = increased profit.

        That is completely in line with economic theory as I understand it.

        And marketing has understood how lowering prices affects sales for decades.

        • lith says:

          Well, except for Veblen goods, that theory’s true. But thankfully Valve are smart not to believe any game is a Veblen, unlike – who was it? EA? Activision? Ubi? – who claimed that their games were “luxury” products.

          But yes. An economist is not a business consultant. An economist would just be to study Steam’s economy, put out some papers on it. Not necessarily recommend any changes.

          I think this will be good, and will hopefully change a lot of attitudes towards gaming – no, lower prices don’t mean lower profits, and, no, you don’t need a multi-million ad campaign and “accessible” gameplay to turn a profit.

        • Mistabashi says:

          I think the thing that confused Valve (at least, the thing they mentioned before at least once) is that when the price goes back up following a promotional price they’ve been consistently seeing a period of increased sales compared to before. Although to be fair, there’s a pretty logical explanation for this if you recognise how important word of mouth and social media platforms can be for generating sales.

        • Makaze says:

          Except that they do improve out of line with common economic theory. Generally the expectation is that there is a supply/demand curve and while there is a optimal price point in general as price drops sales increase and your total profit might shift some but will remain in the same ballpark. Steam sales on the other hand see a price cut by a factor of 4 being responded to by a sales increase of a factor of 40. That’s a full order of magnitude difference in the profit. So either the pricing curve for digitally distributed video games is shaped differently that most other products or the entire industry has been pricing its products ludicrously incorrectly on a massive scale.

          Either way it’s something worth having an economist taking a look at.

    • Xerian says:

      I’m thinking its the exact opposite, what with CS:GO being 15 :|

    • Jdopus says:

      That’s not what an economist does. His job will more than likely be to plot out the effects of say, releasing new hats into TF2. Economics is the study of how people react to changes in the market, not how to pump the most money out of a consumer.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        And it’s great to see Valve hire someone who thinks outside of the box, or so from what I can gather. More and more economists like him are debunking game theory’s uses in modelling human behaviour. I’m sure with his background he’ll be doing more than just analysing the TF2 hat economy.

        • Makaze says:

          Game theory tends to be a poor model for real human economic activity because it (along with the vast majority of economic models) assumes purely rational actors and symmetric information. The problem is that most people act far from rationally and especially in complex economic matters there exist vast information asymmetries. We’re finally starting to develop models based on actual behavioral data, it’s just a shame that it’s taken us this long.

          • Jdopus says:

            But the thing is that everyone who uses economic models understands that, the models have never been anything but a tool to economists, they’re useful because they provide a guideline, not because anyone actually believes that buyers and sellers are purely creatures following the laws of supply and demand to the letter.

          • Makaze says:

            That’s true for (some) economists. The problem however is when non-economists get a hold of that data and interpret, either ignorantly or willfully ignorantly, as pure fact. Vast swathes of laws, fiscal policy, monetary policy, regulations, etc. are written on the completely false premise that the average person is a rational actor.

  2. grimtreegames says:

    So, they hired a professor from the University of Athens, to be an economist. Athens in Greece. To manage an economy.

    Good luck everybody.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Wait, as opposed to an anglo-american economist whose quasi-religious market fervour has served us so well these last few years?

      Assuming this guys isn’t one of Those, this coukd generate some really interesting research. There is so much about Valve as an organisation and Steam as a method of distribution that is utterly fascinating.

      • Fede says:

        Poor grimtreegames was probably just joking. I wanted to make a similar remark, but he was faster. :(

      • MondSemmel says:

        Right. I see the scenario: Valve hires an economist from the University of Chicago. As tends to be the case with them, he is wrong about everything here, too. Somehow, his wrong-headed predictions are heeded; they lead to Valve’s bankruptcy. Episode 3 never happens. Steam is closed down. Origin and GFWL reign supreme.
        Let’s avoid that, shall we?

        • GameOverMan says:

          In that case Episode 3 never happens, but Chapter 11 would.

        • noom says:

          I now have the strangest image in my head of Milton Friedman wielding a crowbar.

          • RakeShark says:

            Indeed, and Milton’s at the center of an economic resonance cascade. Aliens from other countries warp in and began to assess market trends, and endanger your profession with varied predictions. Armed with a crowbar, a statistics degree, and 2 years running champion of the UoC market hazard course, you must survive this horror against these monsters.

            Prepare for unforseen market trends.

          • Makaze says:

            The funny thing is I think Milton Friedman were he alive today would be aghast at both some of the things being attributed to him by the far right and by the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the Chicago School.

            Friedman and Keynes certainly disagreed about many things but that doesn’t mean as some in political circles like to imply that they had the exact polar opposite opinion as the other on every single matter.

        • Reefpirate says:

          Right, the Chicago School… The evil villains of the 90s and early 2000s. But there’s also the Galbraiths and Krugmans who really played just as big a part in screwing everything up.

          This economist from the University of Athens shouldn’t really take the blame for the clusterfuck in Greece though. He could have been a smart one that no one listened to because they were too busy being corrupt or chatting with Goldman Sachs for advice.

          We really should just look at his history rather than immediately saying he’s terrible because he’s from Athens.

          • yutt says:

            So you’re just listing off popular leftist economists to vaguely blame then? Krugman as a professor and opinion columnist somehow influenced the decisions of Lehman Brothers et al., the Bush administration, and arch-Randian Alan Greenspan?

            Right.

          • MondSemmel says:

            No, I’m not saying the Chicago school is evil, I’m saying it is fundamentally wrong. It’s fantasy economics, unburdened by the constraints of reality. For example, I don’t think I have seen any accurate prediction made by them about the financial crisis of 2008. On the other hand, they have predicted runaway inflation due to Quantitative Easing etc time and time again. And this runaway inflation always fails to materialise.

            Conversely, read Krugman’s blog. (here: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com) You will find that he is consistently right. I also happen to share his political views, but that’s beside the point. The important point is that his predictions are vastly better than a coin-flip, which is incredibly rare in all political punditry. (Some pundits are even a lot worse than a coin-flip.)

          • Reefpirate says:

            Krugman represents a very large and popular school of economics that doesn’t have a catchy name like the Chicago School… But his economics is very popular at large investment banks and central banks, and a lot of university faculties. Krugman was quoted saying things like “a housing bubble is a good idea” (paraphrasing). He thought Greenspan had the right idea. (Greenspan hasn’t been a very loyal Objectivist for a LONG time… since he joined the Fed at least).

            Hence my point: Friedman and Keynes and Krugman all agreed on some fundamental issues.

      • USER47 says:

        Uh, market? Where? All I see is more or less central planned economy.

        • battles_atlas says:

          @ USER47

          Run that by me again? The 2007/8 Clusterfuck was the result of a centrally planned economy?

          • Reefpirate says:

            Well he kind of has a point. Money makes up half of most transactions in the economy, and money has been centrally planned for a long time now. They’re called central banks. So there’s half your economy… The other half is not totally free either, to larger or smaller degrees depending on what country you are in. Healthcare in Canada for example is not a free market. Housing in the US wasn’t really free from government interventions either.

          • battles_atlas says:

            ‘Free markets’ don’t exist, cannot exist. They are a myth. That does not mean that the Anglo-American neoliberal model of 1980 onwards is a centrally-planned one.

          • kud13 says:

            Funny how the US housing clusterfuck started because banks and insurance companies started operating sans regulation, bypassing the very “central planned economy” you’re so eager to blame

            Funny also how much better the neighbouring Canada weathered the same clusterfuck due to the fact that it maintained the same banking regulations.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Actually, in Canada it has recently been revealed that there were large bailouts for our banks as well. We didn’t get as involved in the heavy stuff like the US did, and yes weathered it a bit better. But we’re still in the tank with the rest of the world.

            But I guess you don’t get how much of an intervention in the marketplace a centrally controlled interest rate is. That is price fixing, which is generally a well-established bad practice in all schools of economics. It’s a rigged market on half of the whole global economy. It robs the lower and middle classes of purchasing power while perpetuating these horrible crimes carried out by bankers and regulators.

            Wall Street hasn’t been a free market for a long time, since way before the 80s. It’s more like a fascist arrangement between them, the central bank and federal regulatory agencies. Call it what you want, please just don’t call it free markets.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Keep in mind that central control of currency in our country didn’t begin when we left the gold standard, it began when we banned free banking. We keep the medium of exchange artificially scarce, and abandoning monetary policy to return to the gold standard would make that even more artificial.

            The lower and middle classes, in the US at least, don’t need purchasing power–they needs jobs and debt relief. (Elsewhere, in China for example, the reverse is likely true.)

      • Slaadfax says:

        Don’t blame the geologist if the volcano erupts =p

        • Reefpirate says:

          I’d get a little pissed at the geologist if he said it wouldn’t erupt if I build my house at the bottom of the volcano.

          • mandrill says:

            Only an idiot builds his house at the bottom of a volcano then complains at the geologist because he wasn’t warned that it might erupt.

            And they’re an even bigger idiot if they believe that the geologist can make that kind of prediction.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Well you see, geology is a natural science, and I believe it has developed enough to be able to predict these things with fairly high accuracy. Economics is not a science, and hence we shouldn’t really rely on models or predictions very much.

          • Dozer says:

            Economics should be regarded as a branch of Religious Studies, really.

      • Stinkfinger75 says:

        Looks like grim possibly offended some actual Greeks. Pretty sure he was making with the topical funny.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Ah, a small mountainous nation on the Mediterranean chained to a currency run by a huge export nation that pumped it full of cheap credit for a decade or more. Obviously an economic powerhouse ruined by substandard economists. (I realise you were probably joking, but eh.)

      • Blackcompany says:

        Just because others offer you credit doesn’t mean you have to borrow. Something the US could learn.

        And a University education from either nation wouldn’t be something I would look for on a resume, except, perhaps, for the sake of a good laugh. I live in America and I can tell you plainly: Formal education here, on anything, is a bad joke.

        • beekay says:

          I do like how everyone has decided they know better than professional economists how ‘the economy’ should be administrated, especially when they pull out quaint anecdotes about how their parents never borrowed a dime and it worked out just fine for them didn’t it!

          As though there could be no imaginable difference between a household and a national economy of interrelated entities dealing in trillions of dollars per year. You can’t just dump the government bond market. No country with economists educated in a physical university would do anything that stupid.

          • dE says:

            Seeing as the economists believe in the “eternal growth” and unlimited resource fairy, I’d say they can be safely disregarded as a sect of lunatics centred around praising their economical god and praying for the self healing market abilities to finally kick in.

          • battles_atlas says:

            You literally can dump the bond market if you want. Might not be a good idea, but it is an option, because the economy is a socio-political process. Its not gravity, or a lump of coal in the ground, its game based on a set of rules agreed by human actors, some of whom hold more power than others. The inability of the political classes to recognise this distinction, and the resulting decision to treat the economy like an apolitical process that must be run by unelected faceless econocrats, is the reason why we are becoming ever more squeezed to support the unimaginable wealth of a tiny elite.

          • beekay says:

            @dE: I’m glad you’re able to make things up, but I don’t see how it relates to anything here.

            @atlas: no, you can’t really just dump the gov. bonds market, because regulatory activity is constrained by the ability of the political system to support that activity. If your regulatory body is answerable to an electorate, who are not going to be happy about any sort of economic slowdown, then the system cannot support that action (barring exceptional cases). The reason we’re fucked is because our system isn’t perfect. Blaming the personal failings of all politicians (i.e. humanity in general) doesn’t get us anywhere.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            There’s very little difference. Rule 1, don’t spend more than you earn. All the current “shit” stems from failing to follow that rule.

          • Phantoon says:

            Well, it makes you right, in any case, Beekay. Humans are to blame, not the mystical insurance and loans god.

          • battles_atlas says:

            @ Beekay

            But the system is perfect for a very small group with a very large influence over the regulatory process, that was my point. They got hugely rich in the good times, they continue to get hugely rich in the bad times. The rules are rigged in their favour. The crisis continues to get deeper because regulators continue to act like the current rules of the game are somehow politically neutral and set in stone. Once you accept they are not, options start opening up again, options beyond ‘spend the next three decades dismantling public services to fund the ever more absurd lifestyles of the super rich’. Maybe those options involve bond markets, maybe they don’t, that’s not my point. It is that is this is a political process and cannot be left to economists alone.

          • dE says:

            That’s not making things up, that’s the reason there is a mess in the first place. And my sarcastic comment pointed out how the economists don’t know that much better when it comes to this. Point of Reference: Their behaviour.
            What’s the driving power of stock markets? Growth. If you’re not growing, you’re failing. Growth generates investment and investment generates growth, thus the eternal growth fairy that disregards that for every party growing there is a party failing.

            And about the magical self healing market, that’s the magical fairytale of economists. In their books, the only reason there’s poverty is because the greed beast hasn’t been unchained yet and is sadly bound by remaining pockets of morals and ethics – which it obviously needs to get rid off for more eternal growth. Once there are no more limits to what companies can do, there will be a magical land where everyone is happy and constantly gaining. Somehow, magically.

            Seriously, any party that believes in those two things – and that’s summarizing the general economy – is a cult thriving on fairytales. So no, I don’t believe economists know better, they live in the land of make believe.

          • Salvian says:

            @FunkyBadger

            I rather think rule#1 should be ‘don’t obscure complex social and economic phenomena with simplistic moralising dicta’, but whatever.

          • Makaze says:

            @dE:
            Eternal growth is just plain one of those simple facts of the way the world works. It’s not a fairy tale, it’s a natural outcome of our continued technological progression. We can do more things with less material today even while having access to vast amounts more material. That’s progress, that’s growth. And barring an apocalyptic event that wipes out the species it isn’t ever going to stop. Oh it might a hit a bump in the road every now and again. And yes those bumps may be rather harsh. But taken in through the lens of history growth has continued happening to this point and there’s no realistic reason to see it not happening into the foreseeable future.

        • sinister agent says:

          First of all, a university education from Greece isn’t all that he has – he’s a professor, not just a doctor. A professor means he holds a position and therefore is more accomplished than someone who just shows up with a degree one day.

          Secondly, just because he’s a professor in Athens, that doesn’t mean he was educated there, or indeed, in Greece at all. In fact a simple 15 seconds of searching will show you that he was educated in Britain and Australia, and has been publishing works on economics and game theory since the mid 90s.

          Third, even if all that wasn’t the case, quit being such a snob. Not everyone can afford to leave their country to study, and making the best of what you had doesn’t mean your experiences are worthless. I guarantee you there are some graduates of Greek education that are more capable than some graduates in the UK or US, or wherever.

          • LionsPhil says:

            …he’s a professor, not just a doctor. A professor means he holds a position and therefore is more accomplished than someone who just shows up with a degree one day.

            I could have earnt my doctorate just by waving my masters degree at someone rather than four years of hard slog and depression culminating in a thesis and a deep loathing of academia? Fuck.

          • Salvian says:

            Actually, I’d wager that MOST graduates from Athens Unversity are more capable than their British or American counterparts. You need pretty damn good marks to get in, from what I understand.

            Also: I love the cultural chauvinism implicit in the assumption that people from a university in a smaller, poorer country must naturally be less intellectually capable than gratuates from the US.

          • sinister agent says:

            @Lionsphil

            Heh. It’s all relative, man. Research degrees are never easy, obviously – I used to be the person trying to help research students when their course was threatened because their life was going to hell. Some of the things that people go through are just heartbreaking – just imagine working on your thesis while your family are in Syria, for example. But your average professor has done that and then some.

          • Makaze says:

            @LionsPhil:
            Depending on where you want your degree from or in, yes…

      • MondSemmel says:

        I realize Germany (and, more broadly speaking, all signees of the Maastricht treaty) have much responsibility for what is happening with Greece. However, the other major mistake was allowing a nation that has rampant political corruption and incredibly fixed its own books to join the EU. In retrospect, I guess Greece regrets this, too.
        The introduction of the euro was a mistake of economics (although some warned about this back then, too – like Paul Krugman, who tends to be right about everything). But letting Greece join the EU was a mistake of politics – on all sides.
        EDIT: Yeah, sorry for the mixup. I was specifically referring to this: “In 1999, Greece was left out of the eurozone for failing to meet the EU’s economic criteria.” [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1095783.stm] After that happened, Greece was allowed to join the euro on what later turned out to be cooked numbers.
        So I apologize for mixing up the EU with the eurozone in this case.

        • ColOfNature says:

          The UK government can hardly be said to be free of rampant corruption, even if it is slightly less open about it, and we’ve been using PFIs to great effect to fix our own books singe the early 90s. Greece’s economy was pretty strong until quite recently – its massive slump mostly because the tourist industry has taken a hammering in the last few years.

          • Subject 706 says:

            Compared to Greece you are squeaky clean. The level of corruption and nepotism there is way, way more serious than anything in the UK.

          • Reefpirate says:

            The UK can still print their own money to solve their problems. Greece can’t right now…

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Reefpirate: while Britain can indeed print its own money, that won’t solve problems, only forestall them.

            See Rule 1: don’t spend more than you earn.

          • Makaze says:

            Yeah, Greek corruption is on a whole other level. It’s not the subtle “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll scratch the company that is owned by a shell company my wife is invested in via an offshore account”. No, it’s the “That permit is going to cost you double what the form says, unless you want it 2 years from now…” almost mafia level corruption.

            @FunkyBadger:
            Printing money is the same as “earning” it to a sovereign nation. Taxes and spending are frankly only tangentially related. Spending is spending, taxing is just a method of preventing inflation. They do not have to be nor should be equal, we essentially get the inflation rate in “free” money. Additionally the inflation rate is calculated on a set of base goods and does not include the addition of new products and advances in the utility of existing products. Therefore it’s reasonable for the monetary base to increase faster than inflation, more free money.

            Attempting to simplify macroeconomic policy down to something equivalent to standard familial income is just plain incorrect on multiple levels.

        • TormDK says:

          Not at all, the people of greece just have an odd way of running a society.

          I mean, they try and avoid paying taxes whenever possible, but QQ the second the bill for their hybrids has to be paid?

          • Prokroustis says:

            Because you must have an excellent first hand experience of the tax-paying habits of the Greek people…

          • Phantoon says:

            Let’s be fair- hybrids are a terrible fucking stopgap between gasoline and other fuel sources. You have to have two motors, which makes the car heavier. Hybrids don’t run off battery power mainly, so that benefit is right out too. Hybrids also aren’t made for highway travel, and in fact the Prius is optimized for a maximum 33 MPH. Also, having two engines means you have to make them smaller to fit, so they have absolutely no acceleration. Go ask a truck driver how much they love it when a Prius tries to merge in front of them on the highway. (Hint: They hate the damned things a lot)

        • Prokroustis says:

          You do realise the EU and the eurozone are two completely different things?

          • NathanH says:

            They’re not completely different, given that EU members must join the Eurozone, unless they are UK or Denmark.

          • svick says:

            @NathanH Countries like Czech Republic, Poland or Hungary also aren’t in the Eurozone and all of them have been in the EU for quite some time. It’s not really mandatory.

          • NathanH says:

            Apart from Denmark and UK, all EU members are obliged to join to Euro at some point. Of course in practice “at some point” can mean never if the necessary criteria aren’t met, and there are loopholes available that the likes of Sweden use (they are obliged to join the Euro, to join the Euro they must be part of ERM II for two years, they are not obliged to join ERM II).

          • Prokroustis says:

            It was mostly an answer to the absurd comment that Greece joining the EU, which is 10 years before the beginning of the EMU and 20 before the adoption of the common currency, was a “mistake”. Such ignorance is mindbogling.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Greece, right next to the Balkans (I heard it was a nice place to start a world war), had the Colonels thanks to the USA (who were afraid of the USSR expansion), after a coup d’etat that placed a right-wing military “government” for seven years.

          Greece joined the European Union in 1981 because it was the only way to:
          - prevent USA from putting another military regime (nb: USSR collapsed 15 years AFTER democracy was established in Greece)
          - stabilize the region, to prepare for the inevitable Serbia expansion (Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, only 10 years after Greece EU membership, and lasted until 1999)

          Just for a minute, imagine what a greek right-wing military government would have done during the Yugoslav Wars.

          Now you see why we had to add Greece to the EU.

          Depression is better than region-wide/word-wide war, as far as I know.

          -

          Hehe, the guy wrote that on his blog:
          “So, by the time I was six, in April of 1967, a military coup d’ etat plunged us all into the depths of a hideous neo-Nazi dictatorship. Those bleak days remain with me. [...] When the time came to decide on my post-secondary education, around 1976, the prospect of another dictatorship haδ not been erased. Given that students were the first and foremost targets of the military and paramilitary forces, my parents determined that it was too risky for me to stay on in Greece and attend University there. So, off I went, in 1978, to study in Britain.”

          => 4 years before Greece joining EU, students were fleeing the country, afraid of another military coup d’etat and its massacres.

          Still thinking “letting Greece join the EU was a mistake of politics – on all sides” ?

          • T4u3rs says:

            Anybody interested in the military coup in Greece should watch “Z” by director Costa-Gavras.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065234/

          • Contrafibularity says:

            Z is an excellent film. And also check out Adam Curtis on the subject:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/11/the_ghost_of_the_colonels.html

            I have discovered a film in the archives that dramatically tells you why. It was made in 1974 and is an engrossing history of the Colonels’ coup in Greece in 1967 – and what life was then like for the Greek people under the military dictatorship that held power for seven years.

            As you watch it you realise, given what the Greeks have been through, it is no wonder that politicians, especially Papandreou, think the mandate of the people is important.

            The present language of the finance technocrats, and their supporters in the media, portray the Greek people as just another group of lazy southern Europeans who have fed too long at the trough of state money. A bit like us – but more crap.

            What is forgotten is that from 1967 to 1974 the Greek people lived under a harsh and violent dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of ordinary people. The Colonels also corrupted the society by handing out vast loans to individuals in towns and villages across the country – to buy their loyalty. At the same time the repression and torture bred a powerful resistance that finally burst out in incredible bravery in 1973.

            This is the strange and twisted society that the present Prime Minister’s father, Andreas Papandreou, inherited when he became the newly elected leader in 1981. He was faced by the task of rebuilding the peoples’ trust in democracy and the state. Partly he did it through state spending – and in that policy lie many of the roots of today’s crisis.

            The discussion of Greece today in the press and the political offices of Europe is almost completely ahistorical – everything is couched in utilitarian terms of economic management. I just think it is important to put the present crisis in a wider historical context. Above all the extraordinary history of the military dictatorship and the savage effects it had on the whole of Greek society.

            Watch and read these and then make up your mind. You have to understand how taxes were used under the military dictatorship, as a means of repression. You also have to understand that in Greece it’s always been the richest people who pay the least taxes (or, in most cases, none at all). And on top of that, they still had to bribe public officials, even at their hospitals and schools. Like Curtis says, when these things are discussed they’re always done so stripped of any historical context whatsoever. Before indulging in the technocratic stereotypes about Greece, imagine if it’d been you living there.

          • MondSemmel says:

            I’m going to repost my EDIT here, because I’m sorry my mixup detracted from what I meant to say.
            “EDIT: Yeah, sorry for the mixup. I was specifically referring to this: “In 1999, Greece was left out of the eurozone for failing to meet the EU’s economic criteria.” [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1095783.stm] After that happened, Greece was allowed to join the euro on what later turned out to be cooked numbers.
            So I apologize for mixing up the EU with the eurozone in this case.”
            The political mistake on all sides I was referring to was letting Greece join the Euro/not kicking them out of the Euro after people found out they cooked the numbers.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Greece didn’t fix its own books, silly-head, Goldman Sachs did it for them.

          • Phantoon says:

            Nobody fixed the books, or we wouldn’t be in this situation. They “fixed” them. Semantics, my dear.

    • Rawrian says:

      Because one academic can deal with his country’s economic problems in one, two days tops. Right.

    • Pasco says:

      Oh yeah, because the rest of the worlds economists have been doing just smashingly, haven’t they?

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I seem to recall the US banking industry destroying the entire world economy and starting the Eurozone crisis thanks to fraudulent derivatives.

      • FunkyBadger3 says:

        Sub-prime mortgages weren’t technically fraudulent. They were incredibly stupid, but not fraudulent.

        Also, more blame should be attached to the borrowers, not just the lenders.

        • battles_atlas says:

          @ Funkybadger3

          “Also, more blame should be attached to the borrowers, not just the lenders.”

          The borrowers are now homeless, the lenders are richer than ever. That seems blame enough to me.

          • Kong says:

            of course the borrowers are to blame. Ignorance is bad. What do we need governments for? To protect the ignorant fools who like to trust moneylenders? To serve and protect the ignorant? Come on. Governments! Fuck them. We live in Anarchy!

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Sub-prime destroyed value, the banks ended up holding worthless deeds (or at least deeds for worthless properties). They didn’t end up richer at all – however reassuring it is to blame Scrooge McDuck sitting on his piles of money.

            Sub-prime was also a transaction, which had two sides. One side – the borrowers – took money they had no capability to pay back. The other side lent money against worthless secuirty. The failure was on both sides.

          • InternetBatman says:

            TLDR, These transactions had three sides or more, not two, and the issuers did make liability free money while misleading the buyers. The banks should have known better, especially since the people making these transactions drew huge fees for their expertise, which they didn’t exercise.

            The problem is that the banks who were stuck with the mortgages weren’t actually the ones who issued them, so in many cases the people who issued the mortgages weren’t the bankers who got stuck with the bad properties. Here’s how it worked out:

            Borrowers got money for free basically. They didn’t have to pay a principle and fees were low. They could change later, but in many cases were assured they wouldn’t.

            Issuers got money from fees they extracted for their dubiious services. They would frequently sell them in a bundle to the big banks, so they could conceivably make money on the cost of the mortgages and service fees.

            The big banks figured that even if some of them went bad most of them were good and they would make money off the transactions. So, if they bought them for a good price they would also make money for free. They just had to make sure they could get money from the lenders.

            See, everyone thinks they’re making money for free with minimal risk, but the lenders are actually making risk-free money. They’re the ones who got rich, and the housing collapse didn’t hurt them nearly as bad. Also, despite the financial reform law this problem hasn’t been fixed. That’s a comforting thought.

            In this case though, I’m going to have to decide first against the banks buying the bundled mortgages (as a class), because they had a responsibility that they failed. It was their job, and presumably they worked very hard and learned a lot in school to justify the huge salaries they draw. They completely failed at their job. They were supposed to behave like cautious experts and instead acted like hogs at a money trough. They were also the ones actively weakening the regulatory system that protected them through their congressional proxies. They’re also stuck with bad mortgages because they’ve fought tooth and nail to not take any loss by keeping rates high, so are again acting in their short-term interest against the long, and that’s exactly the opposite of their job.

            The issuers, while having more moral culpability, were just operating in a broken system. They weren’t acting foolishly, and they were technically performing their job, however poorly they performed it. They were the ones that made the money. Some got caught in the act. Some broke the law. It was much shadier, but they shouldn’t even exist in their current form. They’re a symptom whereas the big bankers were closer to a cause.

            I would argue that as laypeople and professed non-experts, the homebuyers have the least culpability. They just made a mistake, but they weren’t performing their job poorly. In an asymmetric information exchange the party with the greater information always takes advantage of the other party.

            This is of course complicated by the fact that many individuals and organizations were involved and made money in all the stages of this process.

          • Reefpirate says:

            This all would have been a lot simpler if everyone was allowed to go bankrupt. No bailouts, no QE 1, 2, and 3. Just let them fail, let them all lose money. Now we’re just dragging this on and on for 4 years now.

          • InternetBatman says:

            It would have been simpler but would have made the economy much worse. Simple solutions are for simple problems, and these are not simple problems. The fact that most of the banks are FDIC insured means that the government takes a big hit on bank failiures too, and FDIC insurance is a very good thing.

            Personally, I think it would have been better to force the banks that were bailed out to take the hit on a lot of mortgages and lower them to a worthwhile interest rate. You can’t argue moral hazard for the small guys and not for the big guys (except we did).

        • lijenstina says:

          @FunkyBadger3
          That is a nice spin. As a remember correctly, estimating guilt in a case comes from certain standards. People who have a profession and are paid to do something in their field, have to endure a much higher standard of probing their deeds – that means that the judging of their actions is harsher because there is a presumption of them knowing what the hell they’re doing.

          Imagine driving to a garage to repair your car and after a while the mechanic asks you where a part of the suspension goes and with how much force the bolts holding it need to be tighten. What would you think about it ?

          Also there was a fraud on the part of the Rating agencies. All those worthless derivatives were listed as AAA papers. They were far from secure. Not to mention that the banks knew that they are selling toxic assets.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Its not a spin, its what happened. No one was forcing unreturnable mortgages onto people. They made choices and should be held just as responsible.

        • Salvian says:

          The problem with the ‘it’s the borrower’s fault too!’ argument is that we’re talking about a systemic problem. Completely aside from the fact that, if borrowers were acting en-masse, they obviously weren’t doing so out of some sort of free will for which they can be held morally accountable (and you do seem to be trying to reduce this argument to a moralising one), there is the fact that sufficient regulation could have prevented the sub-prime crises (though I’m personally inclined to think some sort of crisis would have occured anyway).

    • Lemming says:

      A few more university professor in economics running things in Greece and they probably wouldn’t be in the mess they are now.

      • Kong says:

        I wonder if the economists are to blame for the mess. Execute every fucking last one of them. Economists are mercenaries, anything but saints. Or communists lol. Imagine a socialist economist. They do not make people like that anymore, do they.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I doubt it. As a group economists are entirely too close and too well paid by business to really be free of their biases. The lure and pay of private employment is far too strong for many in the field, and the interactions with members in the private sector can skew the whole group. Also, I don’t think many of them are willing to recognize the limitations of their field, and think that everything is an economic transaction, when external factors will come and wreck their gameboard.

    • Roshin says:

      I heard that if you’re born in Germany, you’re automatically a nazi.

      • trjp says:

        Are you aware that ‘Nazi’ is a perjorative term and that someone you consider to be a ‘Nazi’ would not consider themselves to be one (unless they were quite ignorant – which is quite likely when you think about it)

        ‘Nazi’ came from a contraction of National Socialist Party (in German) made-up by it’s opponents because ‘Nazi’ was used in German equivalent to ‘hick’ or ‘yokel’ in the US/UK. This is because one of the major rural areas of Germany is quite devoutly religious and fond of naming it’s sons ‘Ignatius’ (and Nazi is the slang/shortform of that name in German y’see)

        or so QI tells me – certainly the people you think of an ‘Nazi’s didn’t call themselves that anymore than the people who voted Tory in the last UK election don’t call themselves “selfish pricks”…

  3. Biscuitry says:

    Makes sense to me. Next time they try a crazy sales strategy, like the mega-reductions on Steam that have proved so successful, they’ll have someone to ask, “hey, how well did that work?”

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Because half an hour with Excel and the facts and figures are something that require a professoral degree?

      • sinister agent says:

        Gabe! Gabe! I hope you’re reading! This guy’s solved it all for you! You need to use excel, see. Seems so obvious now, doesn’t it?

    • Jdopus says:

      The question an economist would seek to answer isn’t “how well did that work”, it’s more a case of “Why did this work”, applying economic theories of supply and demand and elasticity to valves tinkering both with Steam and in-game economist like TF2

  4. kaoswielder says:

    Sorry but I couldn’t help but joke. A greek for an economist ? :D Sorry if anyone got offended

    • Vorphalack says:

      It’s not really so much a joke as it is lazy, casual racism.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Yeah… it doesn’t really do well to judge people on the current events of their country. Mentioning baguettes and cheese and escargot and wine when talking about French folks is one thing because they really are quite good at food and have been for a long time. (and escargot is yummy, as it turns out)

        Economies can rapidly go in any direction at any time, and depending on how well the folks elected into office understand how economies actually work (as opposed to how perfect ideological socialist fantasies work), that can have a huge effect on the long term success of a country.

        So before I start a political lecture when I really should be getting ready for bed, it’s more about lazy political “humor” than racism. But it’s still laziness.

      • Grargh says:

        On the other hand, they are better off with “bad economy” jokes than the traditional racist shit about making love to goats and boys.

      • Lemming says:

        Oh please, no it isn’t. If you’re economy is in the shitter, then the joke works. It doesn’t matter if your Greek, Spanish or Martian.

        • Vorphalack says:

          It’s racist no matter how you spin it. You cannot justify it because it is vaguely topical. On top of that, the Greek economist jokes aren’t even funny, it’s just a mean spirited dig at a country in trouble. We can do better on RPS I think.

          • Fincher says:

            Greece isn’t a race though?

          • El_Emmental says:

            Yea, but it’s easier to say “racist” than “discriminative”, the shock value of racism is much stronger ; who’s going to say “ew, that joke is discriminative !”

          • sinister agent says:

            Oh for… of couse Greeks are an ethnic group. Christ. Race is a lot more complicated than black or white, you know.

          • Phantoon says:

            Is it racist to not care about race in any way at all?

          • Kong says:

            RPS readers are quite sophisticated old boy are they not?
            This a funny thread. Just the right thing for today. A friend celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday. Lots of beer and ancient scottish whiskey. Some illegal recreatoinal drugs as well.
            In Austria they use the term racist rather free. You do not like or look down upon other people, even if they have the same colour of skin, you are a racist. In Austria. Traditionally a country of racists. Traditionaly a multiculture since the days of the roman empire.
            “There is but one race. The human race,”

  5. Cryo says:

    Well, they have fantasy economy, so they hired fantasy-based economist to manage it. Makes sense.

    • Reefpirate says:

      This joke is more clever than some of the others I’ve read in these comments! Good job.

  6. Monchberter says:

    It’s a great idea and I don’t think it’s really one that at heart is all about “how do we milk our 40m users”, more “how the hell have we managed to set up such a sucessful system?!?”

    Valve have it easy in a lot of respects- captive audience, ability to sell products incredibly cheaply and make up through number sold, a very successful micropayment system in TF2. But I still get the feeling that they still don’t really understand how they’ve done it!

    I’ll be interested to see where this leads.

    • TariqOne says:

      Yeah, as the guy says in his quote, they’re not really bringing an economist in for simple accounting and pricing-type money-related stuff. Rather, I assume they’ll want to run all sorts of analytics to predict and explain player behavior, the potential effects of certain design choices, and the like. Economics and econometrics actually aren’t half bad at smashing through loads of data on decisions and actions and isolating some of the likeliest reasons for it. Sure it’s a load of bullshit a lot of the time, but it is a rigorous and consistent method for looking at things.

  7. Jannakar says:

    Eve works well as a subject for economic analysis/policy since the basic mechanic — transformation of player time into ISK — can be regulated by tweaking the in-game scarcity (shifting ore distribution around, for example although there are knobs to twiddle all the way up the chain) or by altering player behaviour (changing risk/reward ratios or the skill mechanic).

    It has to be said that a lot of the messing around by CCP has been pretty cack-handed and quite a few players have demostrated keener insight into the Eve economy than the supposed ‘economist’.

    • El_Emmental says:

      because there’s always someone smarter than you, and some EvE players are playing the “game” like they would do 3 or 4 jobs at the same time, you can’t keep up with these people without becoming one of them.

  8. Kadayi says:

    Good luck to the guy, however I do have to say that being a ‘total ignoramus’ when it comes to video games doesn’t actually seem to be a positive asset. I guess Valves view is it adds some objectivity, but failure to understand player mindset is half the reason why so many MMOs have crashed and burned.

    • trjp says:

      Economists should produce theories/formulas which fit the available facts/use the available data – when you introduce ‘understanding’ of the products and services being offered, you will always taint that.

      Anyone can say “oh I think everyone wants a new Half Life game” but only a economist can show you why that is whilst having no idea what it is.

      • battles_atlas says:

        “Economists should produce theories/formulas which fit the available facts/use the available data – when you introduce ‘understanding’ of the products and services being offered, you will always taint that.”

        More precisely, you ‘taint’ the model, but you better reflect reality. It must be tough being an economist – actual events keep getting in the way.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I’ve got to put my hand up and say “no” to that one.
        No amount of data analysis will help your Economist if he fails to notice the storm warning in the weather will hit the docks and mess up your supply chain. Then oks a massive amount of of advertising and produce to be made up with no possibility of you now selling/shipping them because “the figures from last year said it was a good idea”.

        You need both an understanding of the product/business and the least bias analysis of the data.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Biased.

          Sorry, that one really bugs me.

        • Phantoon says:

          An economist is only as good as his data.

          Good thing for him Valve has a psychologist to track the human element.

          • Donjo says:

            And they have a team of monkeys to keep an eye on the psyche boys- when they get out of line the crocs are unleashed. The contingency plan, while catastrophic, is also genius.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Counterpoint: most commenters have a huge in-depth knowledge of video-games, yet forever talk uninformed gobbledegook.

      Riddle me that.

      • Kadayi says:

        Speak for yourself.

        No one considered when chasing the El Dorado of the WOW scene that better mechanics and better graphics weren’t necessarily going to win people away, or that the actual audience for MMOs was finite. There was no comprehension of the reason why people played, or what was contributing to keeping them playing, namely the alliances and friendships they’d made in the game. They didn’t think like players, and it’s cost many companies a lot of money as a consequence.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Allow me to point you to this comments thread: gamers at their best.

          (Edit – I replied with the snarky link before you put your reasoned edit in. I think most of this come under Know Your Audience. But an outside viewpoint is always useful. e.g. if you’d asked most “gamers” about Farmtown, they would have said it would be terribly unsuccessful)

  9. trjp says:

    They’re going to do a serious study of the effect that allowing every Steam users to trade their games would have…

    There you go, I’ve said it – now you can all thank me…

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    Well there you go, all hopes for a Linux version of Steam have been crushed… there’s no money in that, don’tcha know.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Yeah because economists and business analysts are the same thing right?

      Don’t worry about 75% of the comments in here get it completely wrong too so you’re doing well.

  11. Blackcompany says:

    So a wildly successful company making money hand over fist has hired someone who graduated from a public university in a fiscally unsound (read: completely broke) nation to help them understand how they can be wildly successful and make money hand over fist….

    Lets all just have a quiet moment here where we blithely pretend this makes any sense at all….

    • MeestaNob says:

      Makes perfect sense: Valve to buy Greece.

      • El_Emmental says:

        That would be magnificent. We would have temples and statues dedicated to Gabe Newell and Gordon Freeman. “The Land of the Gamers”.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      So are you suggesting that because a corrupt government and Goldman Sachs worked together to hide national debt and Germany exploited Greece (along with other periphery country) as a cheap export market that could pay in a strong currency (because the Euro was / is nothing but a currency peg) every single person in Greece is incapable of being right about anything in the field of economics?

      Does every single person in whatever country you live in hold the exact same views you do on absolutely everything for instance?

      This is of course putting aside your snobbery about educational institutions because, as someone pointed out up thread, the university of Chicago’s economic department has a lot of prestige and yet every time its’ theories are implemented they fail utterly.

      • Cryo says:

        Funniest thing is – check out that guy’s blog. He’s a hayek-fellating libertarian. Greek-bashers in this thread would love him.

        • Reefpirate says:

          And you must be a Krugman-fellating type to be so shocked by a Hayekian. See, these name games are fun and easy!

        • Salvian says:

          Really? My Hayek-dar is not very keen, but I had no idea that was his angle. While he obviously isn’t a marxist, a lot of left-leaning thinkers seem to think highly of his work. Could you elaborate?

          • Cryo says:

            Maybe I’ve misunderstood, but he seemed to be lambasting Greek neoliberals for not being enough of market fundamentalists in this post. I’ve read more of his blog now and I guess I might have to apologize to the guy.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I would argue that being “right” about anything in the field of economics is nigh impossible due to the field of economics being and doing what it is/does. Regardless of nationality.

        And I agree, it was a fun mix of corruption, fraud, book cooking, GS products(i.e. the usual vampire squid world exploitation stuff), inefficiency, nepotism, bribes and overall lazyness coupled with overly exuberant social programs that screwed up Greece, not a bunch of guys making up inapplicable theories about the market.

        And maybe also the smoking. Oh, the smoking.

        • Kong says:

          Aye the smoking. Don’t bogart the joint my friend.
          Interesting. You get a lot of years in jail for possessing a little bit of cannabis in Greece.
          Countries that are easy on the money people but very hard on the dope fiends…Greece, USA, Borneo, China etc.
          Smokers are the best company I can think of. Go to greece. Smoke a lot. They should legalize cannabis. Could save their economy.

        • Salvian says:

          I would like to know exactly what these ‘exuberant social programmes’ were, because when I was in Greece I saw nothing of the sort. What I did see were a lot of people on modest incomes who paid their taxes and made bitter remarks about the tax-evasion of the wealthy and the use of the civil service as a system for patronage by political parties.

    • thestage says:

      RPS:

      in which the job of an economist is to make a lot of money

      I suppose physicists ought to manufacture the physical rules of the universe–after all, that’s what they study.

  12. MeestaNob says:

    Wonder if they will entertain buying the Kingdoms of Amalur MMO property if they think they can understand and predict its in game economy…

  13. Nighthood says:

    A Greek giving economic advice?

    The joke pretty much writes itself.

  14. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Haha yes, all citizens of Greece are of one mind and are all equally responsible for their country falling apart!

    What?? No of course I am not at all responsible for or in agreement with the economic policies in my country that don’t work that’s different!

    • Nighthood says:

      It’s more lighthearted joking than actual political criticism. Pretty much everyone knows it’s not the Greek’s fault, and most are sympathetic.

      • Subject 706 says:

        Actually it is partly their fault, yes.

        • diestormlie says:

          and your proof is?

          • pipman3000 says:

            greece’s economy wouldn’t be so bad if they spent less money on labyrinths and put those minotaurs to work instead

          • pipman3000 says:

            it’s messed up because of those damn corrupt government officials spending tax money on personal vanity items like reflective shields and massive bows only they are strong enough to draw. it’s all their fault.

          • pipman3000 says:

            then you got the military industrial complex funnelling all the governments money to the war on troy and then wasting it on stupid junk like a giant hollow horse statue they’ll have soldiers hide and then send into the city. who’s going to fall for that?

          • pipman3000 says:

            and what does the man in charge do during all of this? he turns into a cloud of pee and sexually harasses women.

          • RakeShark says:

            They also built a city on a volcano.
            All of their ancient investments have fallen apart.
            They really screwed the goose.

    • Soon says:

      But if he was personally responsible, he’d probably be the best person to listen to.

  15. RegisteredUser says:

    This is a terrible idea.

    They should take a look at not just reality vs economics, but also read some soiological criticism / sociological economics to realize that all kinds of things in the classic economical approach are just plain narrowsighted and/or wrong.
    Social gaming should use a kind of economic theory approach that doesn’t forget about the social factor one might think..but no.

    At least the guy is well accustomed to the pecularities of the videogaming world, with all its pay-what-you-want, F2P and discount=better bottom line intricacies, modding communities, social factors etc..

    Oh wait.

    • beekay says:

      So you’ve decided that modern economic theory hasn’t yet noticed that the economy is largely created by humans.

      That’s an interesting point of view.

    • Jdopus says:

      Breaking news: Global academic field used all around the world by the largest financial institutions, governments and experts in order to create predictions declared wrong by poster on Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I recommend you google a bit around “Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas” and “professionalization” and in general read up on things like performation of economics, co-dependence of business, politics and academia.

        Economics was created by parts of the economy to professionalize the whole shebang; it was quite irrelevant whether the models actually accurately described reality, and much more important to gain power from now being academically justified.

        This is not to say you can’t have stuff like inflation expectations etc, but macro-economic thought or portfolio theory etc pp are all laughable and have far more layers than just being a formula.

        Also: Regular crisis and full blown country-default cycles for the last 30+ years. Clearly your major institutions and governments are using sound research.

        Oh, speaking of stuff you really need to look up: Long Term Capital Management.

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    “And while cynical sorts might see this as some scheme to put customers on a juicer and squeeze our bank accounts dry”

    Well of course it’s not. We’re already doing that, and quite happy to do so, thank you!

  17. LionsPhil says:

    DUN-DUN-DUNNN

  18. int says:

    I hope they got the most beautiful economist in the world.

  19. TechnicalBen says:

    I’ll just leave this here (last panel is the killer).

    http://www.vgcats.com/comics/images/110122.jpg

  20. Namey says:

    This seems like something Blizzard might have wanted to do when it came to D3 and the RMAH.

  21. Alexandros says:

    Sadly, a few commenters couldn’t resist the temptation of a few cheap laughs. Sigh, I guess it was a bit silly to expect otherwise.

    • Fincher says:

      I think it’s easier to just kick back and take it when someone initiates a pun thread.

  22. Coroner says:

    Fine with me, just as long as he isn’t a Keynesian!

  23. Calabi says:

    The guy from what it seems a pretty good economist. He’s been on the Kieser Report quite alot. He knows exactly what is going on in his country, but cant do anything about it. He’s not neoclassical in other words.

  24. Shandrakor says:

    Interesting experiment. Seems the sort of chap I wouldn’t feel the urge to throttle during a meal. Best of luck to ‘em. NOW RELEASE DOTA2.

  25. Frank says:

    They should’ve tried to hire this guy as a consultant; he’s both a bona-fide economist and he knows his video games: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~rslee/

    • El_Emmental says:

      Too Harvardish, I think Valve is looking for atypical people first. And Gaben was reading Yanis’ blog for quite a long time apparently, so he had the time to see if he could be an interesting employee.

  26. buzzmong says:

    You know, I do think it’s probably more of a curiosity thing.

    Dr.Eyjog (of CCP/EvE Online fame) has said he’s more fascinated by the actions of players in EVE and their affect on the market than he is in real world economies due to the fluidity of the market and how the players actions have noticable affects both short and long term.

  27. El_Emmental says:

    That guy never worked at Goldman Sachs, Valve is safe for now.

    If that guy was a ex-GS, he would have talked Gaben into turning Valve and Steam into publicly-traded companies and Valve/Steam would be dead in 3 months.

  28. Groove says:

    “Perhaps RPS should hire an economist that analyzes other economists. And one day, when our children’s children sit on our laps and ask us how we finally figured out Episode 3′s release date, we’ll prompt shocked whispers and silent reverence with a single phrase: business trends.”

    This sounds like an economic version of the Foundation novels. Instead of making the collapse of universal society less painful it means Episode 3 gets realeased. Fair metaphor really.

  29. Deadly Habit says:

    i want his twitter for economical tweets on valve weekly!

  30. Phantoon says:

    Can we just stab all the economists for the financial crisis? Starting with anyone that worked in Wall Street during the time of the crisis, down to anyone that got a degree now or thinks a completely unregulated market is a good thing.

    Normally I wouldn’t advocate violence against people, but if I demonize them, it’s a lot easier. Also, this may or may not be a joke- YOU decide, America! (or England, other European countries, Canadians, etc)

    • El_Emmental says:

      Sounds like you would have love living under the Khmer Rouge regime, they were stabbing the intellectuals/anyone with a degree/anyone thinking an unregulated society is a good thing.

      • Kong says:

        Shoot them, hang them, take their heads. In public. We are not a violent society? Damn I did not know that. Well, then…send them to a camp in Siberia where the only warmth they get is the hot breath of the Kosak who fuck them.
        Guantanamo. A concentration camp in the Caribbean. Silly Yankees.

    • TCM says:

      Because clearly people who understand economics are responsible for its failure.

      Wait, no, sorry, that’s people who THINK they understand economics when they don’t, or people who understand economics but ignore long term consequences for short term profit.

      [Anyone who remarks that short term profit is all any economist or businessman looks for is of the former type]

  31. vivlo says:

    Woah ! Look how the bare new of a hired economist has unchained the RPS Hivemind to give epic analyzes of economy. The hireing itself led to the job beeing done, somewhere on the internet. Valve’s power.

  32. Salvian says:

    When I saw Varufakis’ name in this story I nearly did a spit-take. I suppose I was expecting the usual Chicago-school nonsense. Having heard Varufakis talk (google him: he’s been doing lots of very lucid interviews about the Greek/European crisis), I have to say: colour me impressed, Valve.

  33. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    Hipster CCP had an in-house economist before it was cool.
    In other news, the nerdbaiting and rage in the comments are hilarious to someone with no understanding of economics.

  34. bulletbill88 says:

    So what I take from this thread is that economists are responsible for all the evils of the world. Especially Greek economists who are the most evil of all. Who knows what sort of demons will be unleashed from hell when this fellow runs a few regressions on Valve’s sales data? No doubt, in his evilness, he will advise Valve that reducing its customers to back-breaking poverty would be a utility enhancing move!

    Best get our pitchforks ready so we can gut Valve’s economist and feed Gabe his entrails so that Valve learns that hiring someone who may know someone who once gave some advice to the Greek government (that the Greek politicians probably ignored in favour of a politically easy but temporary ‘band-aid’ solution) is an offence not to be tolerated!

  35. 0over0 says:

    They’re just trying to figure out the mystery of the hats. It vexes them mightily, it does.

  36. Wedge says:

    I think this story is being misreported and Valve actually hired was a man who looks very much like the Heavy for related work, who just happens to be an economist.

  37. Ratchet says:

    Next they need to hire a Theoretical Physicist to study Valve Time, or someone to show Gabe how to use a calendar.