Valve has revealed that it once believed it could be at risk without an MMO franchise to call its own, but installed free-to-play features and microtransactions into Team Fortress 2 as its own way of dealing with shifting trends in the industry.
In a Gamasutra interview, Team Fortress 2 lead designer Robin Walker revealed Valve’s uneasy feelings towards the MMO market, and why it chose to use the game as a test bed for its free-to-play strategy.
“[When the game shipped],2 Walker explained, “MMOs were the dominant story in the industry, and one concern we had was that we might not be able to survive if we didn’t build one.”
Walker added, “We were starting to feel the same way about micro-transactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them.”
Without an MMO to call its own, Valve decided to implement elements of the genre into Team Fortress 2 and luckily for the Seattle-based studio, the gamble paid off.
“In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we’ve ever built to reduce risk in our company’s future,” Walker continued, “The thought that if we hadn’t done it, we’d be here today without any data or experience with service based monetization strategies is quite terrifying.”