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Valve Has No Plans to Charge For Downloadables 98

Posted by Zonk
from the ponying-up dept.
In an interview with Eurogamer about the upcoming Team Fortress 2, Valve's Robin Walker discusses Valve's philosophy when it comes to downloadable content. In short, when you buy a game from them you buy 'all of it', even the downloadable maps that will be released after the game launches. "'[In multiplayer games] the content you're playing is being created by the players you're playing against, so the more people that get into the game, the more content you're going to have,' Valve's Charlie Brown concurred. Valve's strategy is roughly in line with the traditional PC model, but in recent years services like Xbox Live Marketplace have popularised microtransactions as a means of continuing to extract development capital from completed games." Relatedly, the company annouced last week that there will be no Black Box release for Half-Life 2, Episode 2. The original plan was to have a retail release of just the three new games (Episode 2, Portal, and TF2); now only the orange box with the complete HL2 experience will be available on store shelves. Gamers can still purchase the new content separately from the Steam service.
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Valve Has No Plans to Charge For Downloadables

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  • In short, when you buy a game from them you buy 'all of it', even the downloadable maps that will be released after the game launches.
    Is that legal? [slashdot.org]
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Just read the thread of highest-moderated comments that fills in the head of the story to which you linked, and you will see why that idea is patently ridiculous.
    • That's scary. But if it were to be upheld, MS would have to charge for every minor hotfix, patch, service pack, etc etc etc, which would give free Linux distros a vital edge in the desktop market. Every software company would do whatever it took to get that bill repealed if it were used that way... of course add-on content is a bit different from bug fixes, but even then, it seems to me that entity A should be able to freely give stuff to entity B if he wants to.
    • I asked myself the same thing. I think it is legal if they distribute the earnings from the game over the period where they are still making content for it.
  • by Canthros (5769) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:05PM (#19225545)
    So, have they made any announcement with respect to Steam-only pricing of Episode 2, Portal, or Team Fortress 2?
    • by Tarlus (1000874)
      Not yet.
    • by idonthack (883680)
      No, but they're probably going to be $19.95 like all the others.
    • by xintegerx (557455)
      They said clearly in the article, and this is what the news story should have been, that Valve-created addons are free for those who own or buy HL2. What I wonder about is why then I had to buy a Platinum Pack for Hl1 for $50 with CS, TFC, and HL1. :)
      • by Chabo (880571)
        Then you got hosed. ;) I pre-ordered the Gold package of HL2, which came with Valve's entire back catalog, as well as HL2, CS:S, and DOD:S. The silver package was $60 and included all this, gold was $90 and came with that, plus all of the merch you could ever want. ;)
    • by Sark666 (756464)
      I know nothing really about steam. It seems like a forced play for the majority to buy it via steam. I'm curious, what are your options for reinstalls? Can you burn this for the future? Do you have to redownload it if you are reinstalling?
      • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:50PM (#19228449) Homepage

        I'm curious, what are your options for reinstalls? Can you burn this for the future? Do you have to redownload it if you are reinstalling?

        You can download your games as many times as you like, on to as many machines as you like. Technically, you can only have a Steam account active on a single machine at a time, but you could probably fudge your way round it with use of the offline mode which is invoked if no network connection is present.

        You can also manually copy game data files between machines - if you've forgotten anything, it'll get redownloaded when Steam reconnects and does a file check on game startup. There's also a function built-in for neatly archiving files into CD or DVD-sized chunks, and restoring them accordingly.

        Yes, ideally you do have to connect to Valve's servers every time Steam starts up (where it'll download any game updates unless told otherwise) - so if Valve and/or Steam were to mysteriously disappear, then you'd be stuck either with offline mode or with none of your games working. Valve persons have indicated that in such an eventuality a final, check-disabling update would be a nice thing to do, barring any particularly severe catastrophes.

        It's not brilliant, and the need-to-authenticate-online thing has drawn a lot of criticism, but it's pretty cool once you get the hang of it. Plus the catalogue of third-party games keeps on increasing - there's a nice little line in critically-acclaimed, market-ignored titles like Psychonauts available. I'd recommend it for that alone. ;-)
        • by Slushie31 (857901)
          Due to Steam, I became introduced to, and subsequently purchased, two excellent games that I would otherwise have not even likely known about: Psychonauts and Shadowgrounds [steampowered.com]. My Steam games list currently contains about 20 titles.
          • by Chabo (880571)
            I'd also consider Darwinia to be among the excellent games popularized by Valve through Steam. I didn't buy it, but then again, I'm a poor college student. The demo was cool, though, and I know several people who did purchase it.
  • I'll believe it when I see it. I still remember the words "Nobody plans to build a wall", though those were said in German...
    • by idonthack (883680)
      Steam subscribers that play the Half-Life games have already seen it. We get free new content in the form of maps, updated character models, and so on. You get free mini-expansions (like Lost Coast) and they even released Half-Life 2 Deathmatch, which could pass as a whole game on its own, completely free to Half-Life 2 owners.
    • by nczempin (822340)
      I'll believe it when I see it. I still remember the words "Nobody plans to build a wall", though those were said in German...

      You must be fairly old then, because the wall was built in 1961. Much more recent is "The wall will stand for 100 years", which was said shortly before 1989...
  • The first sentence of the article: Valve has no intention of charging for downloadable content for games like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, despite the increased prevalence of premium add-ons in the PC and console markets.
    • downloadable content for games like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2...

      Grammar police!
    • Did the writer intend to write "Valve has no intention of charging for (downloadable content for games) like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2," using CS and TF2 as examples of "downloadable content?"

      Or did he mean to write "Valve has no intention of charging for downloadable content for (games like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2)," using CS and TF2 as examples of "games?"

      It could be either (but I'll bet it's the latter).

      • by Chabo (880571)
        I don't think it's ambiguous at all, the second meaning you stated seems like the only possible one to me.
    • Team Fortress 2 updates (new maps, patches, etc.) will be free. Team Fortress 2 itself will not be free.
  • Microsoft feels about this. Doesn't it make them look greedy and well, childish? I mean, the Live microtransactions always did sound like nickel-and-diming to me, coming from a PC gaming background. And here's good old Valve promising to avoid such a strategy, but will Microsoft try to pressure them in the coming months? I remember them charging for those Halo 2 multiplayer map packs when, in the face of a very underwhelming multiplayer game, one might say they already owed those to the community anyway. Sa
    • Microsoft wants valves business. Valve doesn't need the xbox 360 sales. Portals and TF2 on there own will sell very well.
      • Right, but Microsoft is also trying to build a new revenue stream by charging for things that PC users have grown accustomed to getting for free. This flies in the face of that and if I'm a customer I'm wondering why game X charges for new levels while game Y (HL in the example, no slouch of a game) does not. Why would I buy Halo 3's new levels, when I'll be getting Teamfortress 2's levels for free? Judging from each company's respective history, I can bet those free Valve levels are going to have way bette
    • by Sark666 (756464)
      Ok, I'm going off topic but when you mention microsoft and valve in the same sentence it makes me think back to when half life 1 was first released. I was really surprised they ported an opengl engine to d3d. I've always wondered why valve did that. And quake 1 was big, but half life exploded with cs, tf2. If half life 1 was opengl only, maybe ati would have had to get it's act together a lot quicker and opengl might have more of a foothold in gaming. Microsoft saw how big gaming was getting way back t
      • Well for one thing OpenGL is (supposedly) harder to code for then D3D, thus it's more expensive to make games for OpenGL then D3D. Additionally D3D has come a long way from when Carmack had his say to the point where he almost used D3D for one of his game recently (but OpenGL put in the feature he wanted to use just in time).
        • by Sark666 (756464)
          Well, my point was back then (10 years ago), no one would argue that d3d was better. So I'm not talking about the current climate, but would make them go out of there way and port it to d3d back then? And yes I read Carmack almost did, but you can see he still really wants to stay cross platform, which in turn makes it much easier to port to another platform which of course microsoft doesn't want. And again, Carmack wants to stay cross platform not because it's where the money is at, but because he think
      • by randyest (589159)
        I'll forgive you if you promise to try to make the same game in D3D and openGL. As much as I wish I didn't have to admit it, D3D really is a lot better than OpenGL if you're selling a game to a mostly-windows audience. Which most game publishers are.
  • by RichPowers (998637) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:44PM (#19226193)
    Not everyone buys "booster packs" and expansions for multiplayer games. This forces many servers to keep new maps out of rotation. Consequently, new maps are limited to a few dedicated "NEW MAP!!!" servers, some of which are located in different continents. I noticed this with Battlefield 1942 in particular. Its two expansions were solid, but, if I remember correctly, only a small handful of servers had the new maps. Because of this, I was never compelled to buy an expansion that few people actually played online, especially if I was dependent on just one server. Contrast this with the free maps DICE/EA gave us. Battlefield 42's Coral Sea map is still played today, oftentimes with a full 32 players. Everyone downloaded the map because it was freely included with a new patch. The great thing about free multiplayer content: everyone gets it, so it'll actually be played online.
    • by randyest (589159)
      While your point is well taken and may apply to some games, you remember incorrectly in the case of Battlefield. A good 2/3 of the private servers, and almost all of the EA servers included at least a few maps from the expansion packs in their map rotations. Many players were displeased, but a few of the maps from each were very good, and unarguably fresh compared to the originals, so they found little support in their bitching. Of course, one or two good maps and a few extra vehicles and armies may or

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