What does Valve software have in common with the European economic crisis? Yanis Varoufakis. This economics PhD has written a couple of books on the world's current financial disaster, and he's now taken a position as Valve's "economist-in-residence." Surprisingly, Varoufakis isn't a gamer. He explains the chain of events that led to his new position in the first of what will be a series of blog posts on Valve economics.
The initial post is more back story than anything else, and Varoufakis points out that he's not the first economist to be employed by the gaming industry. MMO Eve Online has an economist charged with tracking its in-game economy.
Varoufakis's position gives him the opportunity to look at more than just in-game economics, though. Steam is sort of its own economy, and Valve has shown a willingness to experiment with pricing, free-to-play models, and other endeavors aimed at delivering more value to its customers—and, no doubt, more cash into its coffers. Looks like Varoufakis will be performing various experiments and then observing how the community reacts.
One of those experiments might be the Potato Sack Reunion, which bundles 13 popular indie games for just 20 bucks. I'm curious to see how many of those games are played by folks who spring for the bundle. In my experience with indie bundles, most of the titles are never played, and some aren't even installed.