Team Fortress 2 Free-to-Play Increased Revenue by Twelve Times

Written by John Ponio    Friday, 09 March 2012 14:34

Team Fortress 2 Logo

Back in June 2011, Valve made a big decision to make their triple-A title Team Fortress 2 free-to-play. This decision was big because there was a good chance that it would infuriate their current users who laid down the money for the game. Before, during, and after the transition to free-to-play, Vavle implemented an item economy, where you could pay real money for in-game items. Items included new weapons and character customizations (like hats). But instead of turning TF2 into a pay-to-win game, where you have to pay for better items that would overpower the free items, Valve made items available for free from item drops of from crafting. Joe Ludwig of Valve said, 

"We dealt with the pay to win concern in a few ways. The first was to make items involve tradeoffs, so there's no clear winner between two items. But by far the biggest thing we did to change this perception was to make all the items that change the game free. You can get them from item drops, or from the crafting system. It might be a little easier to buy them in the store, but you can get them without paying. The only items we sell exclusive to the store are cosmetic or items optional to gameplay."

Revenues after they finished the free-to-play transition was 12 times higher than monthly TF2 sales, which is pretty astonishing considering that they made the game free to play. This is a very interesting business model, where you can play a game for free and not have to pay to win, but the developer can still make a lot of money, and I'm excited to see what Valve will do with this idea in the future. You can read more about the transition to free-to-play here