Valve free-to-play game: "Yes," it's being worked on
Valve VP of marketing, Doug Lombardi, has confirmed to French site Barre de Vie that Valve are working on a free-to-play game. When asked if Valve were working on their own free-to-play game, Lombardi simply replied "yes."
Of course, the first question is 'which game?' Valve are known to currently be working on Dota 2, the sequel to Warcraft 3 mod Defence of the Ancients. Dota has spawned many similar unofficial successors. One of these most notable of these is League of Legends, which thrives on a free-to-play model bolstered by micro-transactions. Could Valve be planning something similar for Dota 2? We could find out more in August when Valve appear at Gamescom.
Then again, it could be something completely new. A while back Valve surprised everyone when they released Alien Swarm for nothing. There were no further updates to that game, but Valve have been gradually adding microtransactions into Team Fortress 2 over the course of the last year or so. It's a move that proved so successful they repeated it in Portal 2, offering players the chance to buy new skins and animations for the co-op bots Atlas and P-body.
A series of free-to-play games like Champions Online and Global Agenda recently hit Steam, another indication that Valve believe that free-to-play is going to be a big part of PC gaming's future. Lombardi told Barre de Vie, via translator, that “in "some areas of the world, free-to-play games are already paying more than traditional games.”
Earlier this year, Valve CEO Gabe Newell spoke to Develop about their change in design philosophy, saying that they're moving towards "shorter and shorter development cycles." For more insight into the inner workings of the Valve hive-mind, check out our series of interviews with Gabe Newell.