We recently disccused Valve's decision to offer free-to-play games on Steam. Such titles make money either by selling items and upgrades in game (microtransactions) or by offering a tiered service. Free gamers have access to a significant portion of the game, while paid subscribers have access to additional gear, weapons, or areas.
Valve has just taken a step up from offering free games. The company's popular Team Fortress 2, first released in October 2007, will now allow players to download and compete for free. Gamers will be able to purchase certain gear, but doing so won't be a necessity. Having played the current TF2 Beta, we can say that Valve is working to ensure the game's special items are powerful without turning them into game-ruining equipment. The F2P module was delivered on Thursday. It's the largest content update Valve has ever released for the four-year-old game.
Valve has released a new video (Meet The Medic) and the self-titled Über Update includes weapons, gear, and more of the same humor that's come to define the TF2 series. If you haven't played for awhile (or have never played at all), it's a great time to try. There are a number of vanity weapons available, but the standard (free) suite still works quite well.