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 .