In the future, we're all going to sit in our rocking chairs and enthrall our grandchildren with tales of a time when videogames cost money . They'll then reply with a dismissive “Oh grandpa, you so crazy” before sauntering off to spend $400 on in-game hats. And everyone will have jetpacks. Where were we going with this? Oh, right: Team Fortress 2 is kicking its price tag to the curb and joining the free-to-play club.
“We've been toying with the idea of making Team Fortress free-to-play ever since the Mann-conomy update [in September 2010],” Valve's Robin Walker told Develop . “The data we got back from that update leads us to believe that TF2 would be more successful as a completely free product.”
Free-to-play, however, can be a double-edged sword. Charge for the wrong item or turn cold, hard cash into an adequate substitute for hot lead, and you could be staring down the barrel of a pissed-off playerbase. Fortunately, Valve is well aware of that and doesn't plan on turning free players into second-class citizens.
“Right now we’re only planning on using the items you can purchase from the in-game store,” Walker explained, noting that TF2's steady stream of free updates will continue on unabated. “Our goal first and foremost is for players to enjoy the game, and we think finding items, and getting to experience new gameplay through them, is one of the things that's really fun in the game. Removing that seems counter-productive.”
“Purchasing something is a step that we hope players take after they've decided they like the game, not something they should have to do while they're still evaluating it.”
Valve's not pulling any of its usual “when it's done” shenanigans here, either. TF2's price tag is already nowhere to be found. Better still, the game's smack dab in the middle of its stupendously colossal “ Uber Update ,” which – if you were to examine it under a microscope – would be made up of millions of tiny kitchen sinks. So then, if you've somehow avoided one of PC gaming's biggest phenomena for the past four years, you now have no excuse. Unless you just have really terrible taste. Then you have an excuse – just, you know, a bad one.