Tag Archives | Steam

Team Fortress 2 Goes Free to Play, As Does the Rest of the Games Industry

The free to play gaming craze has suddenly swept through some major players in the video game industry.

Valve announced that its popular first-person shooter Team Fortress 2 will now be free forever through the company’s Steam PC gaming service, with some optional premium perks for players who spend money on anything in the game. This is part of Valve’s of larger effort to bring free-to-play games to the Steam service.

But Valve is hardly going against the grain here. Last month, Ubisoft announced its first free-to-play foray with Ghost Recon Online. Electronic Arts, which has dabbled in freemium for years now, added its popular Battlefield franchise to the mix this year with Battlefield Play4Free. In March, Sony’s Free Realms became the first free-to-play title for a home game console.

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Valve Plots Living Room Takeover With Steam

Steam is a popular gaming service for PCs with over 30 million player accounts worldwide, but it’s missing out on the huge audience that prefers video game consoles and gaming in the living room.

That may change with a couple of new efforts from Valve, which runs the Steam service. The company announced that it’s building a “big picture mode” with controller support and navigation designed for big screens. Valve’s intent is to help gamers play from their couches without a mouse and keyboard.

In addition, Valve is bringing a version of Steam to the Playstation 3, starting with the release of Portal 2 in April. This will allow PC and PS3 gamers to play together, and may someday allow players to resume their saved games across both platforms.

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Valve Gives Mac Gaming a Boost

Some serious PC gaming is about to come to Macs, with Valve announcing that its Steam platform will support Apple computers in April.

Valve says it’ll treat the Mac as a “tier-1” platform, meaning that its games and all updates will be released simultaneously for Windows and Mac. A new feature called Steam Play will let people play the same game on a Windows PC and a Mac for no added cost, with saved games transferring between computers.

Valve’s a heavy hitter in PC gaming, with iconic first-person shooters such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Left 4 Dead. And Steam, a platform for digital game downloads and online play, has 25 million members. That number will soon inflate with Mac support, and there’s a good chance other game developer will give Mac ports more serious consideration; DICE, the maker of recent blockbuster Battlefield: Bad Company 2, is already mulling a Mac version.

Why now? Thanks to Wikipedia, I found this 2007 Kiziko interview with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, in which he explains that Apple never seemed particularly interested in gaming. “I just don’t think they’ve ever taken gaming seriously,” he said. “And none of the things developers ask them to do are done. And as a result, there’s no gaming market there to speak of.”

Apple has since made a few moves that show the company no longer ignores gaming. Indeed, the iPhone has proven that games are a lucrative market, so why not give the personal computer some love? Newell didn’t elaborate in the Kiziko interview what he wanted from Apple, but I’ll wager that Apple has addressed Valve’s concerns. Given the way Valve teased its announcement of Steam for Mac, it seems there’s a lot of love going around. Nothing wrong with that.