Steam starts supporting free-to-play games

Graham Smith at

Steam Free to Play

It is frustrating that Valve insist on telling the world very important news just as everyone in the office turns off their PCs to go home. That leaves it to me to tell you that Valve have added microtransaction support for free-to-play games to Steam, with five available immediately: Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, and Alliance of Valliant Arms.

Starting tomorrow, each of the five games will offer exclusive in-game content to those players who try out the "free-to-play game of the day." That likely means Champions Online will soon be inundated with new players wearing Pyro masks or wielding Gordon's crowbar, which can only be a good thing for all involved.

Read on for a few more thoughts.

You can find all five games in the new free-to-play section of the Steam store.

The news here is that Steamworks' micropayment functionality is being used across all the games. The tech was originally rolled out for Team Fortress 2's Mannconomy update, and it has been generating wads of money for Valve and prompting occasional ire from gamers ever since. Given that these games were already free-to-play with micropayments though, it seems like little cause for further consternation.

Instead, it seems like a good thing. Free-to-play games vary in quality wildly, and there's so many of them from so many developers that it's difficult to work out which are worth your time. Having a bunch of them in a central place like Steam, where you can see what your friends are playing, should make it easier to work out what's worth your time. It'll also stop these games being so marginalised and take away a little of the stigma of playing them. If that results in the good free-to-play games getting the attention they deserve, then that's great.