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Valve's Team Fortress 2 becomes free-to-play

4 year-old shooter adopts new model with Steam Wallet microtransactions

Valve has announced that its four year-old team-based shooter, Team Fortress 2, has become a free-to-play title supported entirely via microtransactions.

In-game clothing, weapon and customisation options, already available via Steam's Wallet purchase system, will now fund the game in its entirety.

The announcement follows Valve allowing third-party free-to-play games to be featured on its Steam download service earlier this month, launching with Sega's Spiral Knights, Perfect World's Forsaken Worlds, Atari's Champions Online: Free for All, Hi-Rez Studios' Global Agenda: Free Agent, and NHN USA's Alliance of Valiant Arms.

Team Fortress 2 is the first Valve made game to follow suit. There will be no ads in game and a detailed FAQ on the game's official website explains that by nearly all purchasable items will also be available via random in-game drops too, meaning that it's possible to unlock almost everything for free with patience.

Players downloading the game now will be registered as having a 'free account'. Anyone who previously paid for the game, or who uses their Steam Wallet to make a purchase from the in-game Mann Co. Store will be upgraded automatically to a 'premium account'.

"Premium accounts have a few extra features, including access to rare and cosmetic items through random item drops, the ability to store more items in your backpack, and more powerful trading and crafting abilities," reads the FAQ. "Otherwise, the gameplay experience will be identical for both accounts.

"The entire game can be played without making a purchase. All game modes, classes, and maps are available. Nearly every weapon is available through achievements, drops, or crafting."

When in-game purchases were launched for Team Fortress 2 last year, five modders won a competition to have their items featured in the Mann Co. Store, taking 25 per cent of all revenues which they raised. Within two weeks, the earnings for the most successful items were around $140,000, netting nearly $50,000 for their creators.

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Latest comments (9)

Certainly interesting to see what the metrics and new players to in game transaction/conversion will be like, and whether overall there is a significant increase in a core Player base
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 5 years ago
Definitely a smart move. I'm pretty sure that, after 4 years, everyone who would pay to play has already done so.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve5 years ago
It's inspiring to watch how Valve have managed TF2, I can't recall any other non-MMO game that's continuously been re-thought, refined and re-targeted to this level.
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Show all comments (9)
Daniel Vardy Studying HND IT, De Montfort University5 years ago
I understand why Valve have done it, the micro-transaction model works very well for the game. However, this for me is done at the expense of a good online experience. This opens the door to more people who you don't want to be playing the game. Got banned? Be back within minutes with a new account.
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Trevor Johnson Environment Designer, Compulsion5 years ago
@Daniel Vardy
That's why dedicated servers should always be.(I'm looking at you MW2) I play on maybe two servers, and anyone hacking, griefing, whatever, gets banned pretty much immediately. I often wonder whether dedicated servers will ever be an option for console platforms.
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Supul Jayawardane Freelance Writer/Software Engineer 5 years ago
I tend to agree with Daniel. I'm not a TF2 player, but some of my friends have been playing the game for sometime. I was surprised by their hostile reaction. They are concerned about hackers populating the servers, which is a very valid point IMO.
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Daniel Vardy Studying HND IT, De Montfort University5 years ago
Yes Trevor I agree, the good thing about dedi server is that the game is governed by the players but at the same time a server admin is not always around.

I also tend to spend some time on the trading servers as it is a very lucrative thing to get into. The reaction from the TF2 economy as a whole is a crash on some items. The reaction from the trading community has been lukewarm, there is going to be more items around causing a devaluation but at the same time there will hopefully be a higher demand for the rarer items causing them to increase in value.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 5 years ago
Too bad the mappers - who have contributed far more content than any others - won't get compensated for all the free maps they've uploaded. Valve has made a lot of money off their backs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 24th June 2011 7:04pm

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Giles Smith Studying maths, University of Sussex5 years ago
There are anti-hacking measures in place. You can only download TF2 on your steam account if it is verified(i.e the account has payed for at least one game) and if you get caught hacking your whole account is banned from VAC servers. So i doubt current TF2 players have much to fear from the legions of polish Russian and Chinese that typically hack free to play fps.
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