The Competitive Effects of Variance-based Pricing
Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Main track. Pages 362-370. https://doi.org/10.24963/ijcai.2020/51
In many markets, like electricity or cloud computing markets, providers incur large costs for keeping sufficient capacity in reserve to accommodate demand fluctuations of a mostly fixed user base. These costs are significantly affected by the unpredictability of the users' demand. Nevertheless, standard mechanisms charge fixed per-unit prices that do not depend on the variability of the users' demand. In this paper, we study a variance-based pricing rule in a two-provider market setting and perform a game-theoretic analysis of the resulting competitive effects. We show that an innovative provider who employs variance-based pricing can choose a pricing strategy that guarantees himself a higher profit than using fixed per-unit prices for any individually rational response of a provider playing a fixed pricing strategy. We then characterize all equilibria for the setting where both providers use variance-based pricing strategies. We show that, in equilibrium, the providers' profits may increase or decrease, depending on their cost functions. However, social welfare always weakly increases.
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