For several years now, Team Fortress 2 has been a creative venue for the developers at Valve, allowing the game designers to steadily introduce risky, yet promising ideas. The company’s enterprising philosophy has helped comfortably introduce gamers to microtransactions, cosmetic updates and an unconventional art style.
Once packaged alongside industry giants like Half-Life 2 and Portal, the class-based shooter has undergone profound changes, boasting more than 200 updates since its October 2007 release. But today’s patch should be considered the most radical: by adopting a free-to-play model, PC and Mac gamers can enjoy the entire Team Fortress experience without ever having to pay.
What makes Valve’s departure from the traditional pay-to-play model even more intriguing is the company’s financial state: it’s doing great! Normally, in the gaming industry, developers offer their game gratis as a last resort -- a final plea to gamers who have otherwise ignored the title. Team Fortress 2, which boasts a player base in the millions, is clearly a successful property, so why is it suddenly free? One word: Microtransactions.