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 Team Fortress 2  Goes 'Free-To-Play'
Team Fortress 2 Goes 'Free-To-Play'
June 23, 2011 | By Kris Graft

June 23, 2011 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Business/Marketing

Valve Software on Thursday revealed that its popular online shooter Team Fortress 2 is adopting the "free-to-play" business model on PC, and will be supported solely by virtual item sales.

It's the first time that Valve has applied the business model to one of its own internally-developed games. Team Fortress 2 launched on PCs and consoles in 2007 as part of The Orange Box compilation.

Players who bought Team Fortress 2 (digitally or at retail) prior to the "Uber Update," released today, will have a "premium account."

These accounts will give players access to "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," according to Valve.

Outside of those extra features, the gameplay experience will be "identical," the studio said. Valve added, "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."

Gamers who purchase any item from Team Fortress 2's digital storefront the "Mann Co. Store" will also be granted premium account privileges.

Valve introduced the Mann Co. Store in September last year, sparking speculation that the aging Team Fortress 2 could be going fully free-to-play. Users can spend real money to buy virtual items such as weapons for the various character classes, and a wide variety of hats.

Those who bought Team Fortress 2 before it went free will also receive a "Proof of Purchase hat" for any character. More details on the update can be seen at the official free-to-play FAQ.

The move closely follows Valve's recent introduction of third-party games on Steam that implement the free-to-play model.

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Kale Menges
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Valve, make me an iPad version;)

Freek Hoekstra
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Wow that is an interesting twist, I guess I should have seen it coming with the news from september, and steam supporting free to play, but this was still a surprise to me. I expected a new free to play title, not one of valves older (but fantastic) games to be supported.

I have to say I think this is a brilliant move from valve, although I am a bit scared this will put a lot of strain on the free to play market if very succesfull games start going free to play after a couple of years. But I do believe this is a great solution to keep the game profitable and fun to play as a lot of new players will be attracted keeping the servers nice and full as well as modders having a big audience to create maps for.

I am really anxious to see the results that come out of this, and I would not at all be surprised if it turns out to be a great succes and creates a potential snowball effect for other originally full price games going free to play (outside of the MMO genre)

Rob Wright
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TF2 is absolutely one of my all-time favorite MP games, but I'm not sure how I feel about this. As a business decision, it's an interesting move by Valve; I'm guessing they'll make enough coin off of in-game items to support TF2 for the near future, plus this will open up the game to a new audience, which will hopefully keep the number of servers and matches healthy for years to come.

However, I've never liked or endorsed the idea of pressuring players to buy in-games weapons in order to have a level playing field. Personally, I preferred the achievement upgrade model (even though I hated all the cheaters who jumped on the achievement maps to get the upgrades instead of earning them on the battlefield). I'd almost rather have in-game advertising than a game item purchasing system, but that's just me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go restock my Steam Wallet.....

Eric Schwarz
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Unfortunately, this is what killed Hat Fortress 2 for me. Back when it was a fun, well-crafted, well-balanced shooter and little else, it was my go-to online game. Ever since Valve's added the store, tons and tons of new (rather unbalanced) community items, cosmetic items for every single game and preorder, and trading has taken priority over actually playing in many servers... the fun for me is just gone. It's like the point when Diablo II ended up being overrun by hackers and gold farmers - just trying to play the game as intended becomes more difficult simply due to the presence of so much "noise" in the background, and that pervasive feeling that you're always behind the curve if you don't start spending more money.

Aaron Truehitt
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I've logged well over 1000+ hours in TF2. I still very much love this game even after all this time. However, the over abundance of items are really...overwhelming. I loved hats when they were an extremely rare find. Now you see people with hats and it's just...who cares.

Now I see new weapons people have and I do feel behind the curve unless I spend money to get the quickly.

There is a such thing as over doing it. TF2 is losing value sadly...That's why I hate cash shops and Free 2 Play. Value is lost.

Kevin Franks
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Not everyone's happy.

For those who bought TF2 before it became free, check this out: