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Steam Now Offering Free-To-Play Games 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the price-is-right dept.
donniebaseball23 writes "Valve's digital Steam service is going strong with 30 million active accounts, and now the developer has further boosted its offerings by adding free-to-play titles. Steam is kicking off its support of the free-to-play model with five titles (which will include in-game Steam exclusives): Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valliant Arms. Valve's support of free-to-play shows just how widely accepted it's become."
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Steam Now Offering Free-To-Play Games

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  • Wow, if I hadnt played a steam game or looked at their main store page I wouldnt have known!

    Thanks for the scoop Slashdot.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      in fairness not everyone constantly visits steams website or plays games off of steam every day

      • This. I have never visited Steam website because I am not a big gamer since WC3, but I will probably download Steam now to check them out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not everyone plays games off of Steam at all for that matter. Polish it and put lipstick on it all you want, but Steam is invasive DRM that creates an artificial necessity to have a worthless resource using program running in the background and an internet connection even for single player games.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Amarantine (1100187)

          an artificial necessity to have a worthless resource using program running in the background

          Most people use Windows anyway.

          and an internet connection even for single player games.

          Steam features an offline mode. You only need to have been online once per game to be allowed to play it offline, i believe.

          • Re:Great catch! (Score:5, Informative)

            by damnbunni (1215350) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @05:06AM (#36447668) Journal

            Steam's offline mode is far from perfect. I've lost count of the number of times I've had games cease working until I went online, even if they showed 'ready to play' in Offline Mode.

            Yes, even single-player games with no internet functionality at all.

            It's also really annoying that there's no way to throttle Steam's download speed, since it's capable of completely saturating my net connection so no one in the house can even check their email.

            And it detects all the software bandwidth throttles I've tried to use and ceases downloading at all until I turn them off and let it have every byte it can slurp.

            Then there's also that if Steam knows there's a patch, but it's not downloaded, you can't start the game even in offline mode until you download the patch.

            • by X0563511 (793323)

              Conversly, I've never had any such problems, and indeed have played multiplayer while in 'offline' mode. I should also mention I have almost 150 titles on it, having been with steam since it was just a half-baked WON replacement.

              I'll agree that throttling needs to be added, but that's hardly an issue unique with Steam. It seems almost every software vendor assumes users have unlimited bandwidth...

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by madmayr (1969930)
          that may well be - but steam (in contrast to other drm copy protections for games) gives you something in return too - have your games available from everywhere where you have internet access (which is the main reason i started using it) - buy games comfortably from home - some really nice deals from time to time (especially on holidays) and with the option to go into offline mode, you can play without an internet connection (allthough it is needed at some point to enter offline mode)
    • I'm sure that a significan portion of people who use Steam have their settings as such that they never see the store page or the "special deals" offered and not to mention the multitude of casual gamers who would probably be inclined to partake in such free to play offerings. Also, I hate free to play stuff :|
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wow,

      Nah, I don't think WoW falls in the free-to-play category.

  • by gomiam (587421) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @02:53AM (#36447002)
    ...they just didn't have an official list. On the other hand, IvanDoomer has unofficially taken care of that for a while [steampowered.com].

    It also seems that some of these free to play games aren't available everywhere (a couple of users have written at the thread about it).

    Perhaps Valve should just make IvanDoomer's list official or something :)

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Doh! And I had just paid money for some (on sale) version of Trackmania. Thanks for the link! Especially since all these new games sound like boring "fantasy" MMO grindfests.

      Had a lot of fun with Alien Swarm back in the day... hoping they start exchanging features with Tremulous!

  • by Flipao (903929) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:25AM (#36447154)
    This Penny Arcade strip [penny-arcade.com] pretty much sums it up for me.

    Mainly because it's simply not free, yes you can enjoy the games to a certain extent without paying a penny, but they are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as possible and in the long term are far more expensive than purchasing a retail product upfront.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aiht (1017790)

      This Penny Arcade strip [penny-arcade.com] pretty much sums it up for me. Mainly because it's simply not free, yes you can enjoy the games to a certain extent without paying a penny, but they are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as possible and in the long term are far more expensive than purchasing a retail product upfront.

      My strategy to work around this problem is simple and (I think) effective:
      Don't buy the extra stuff that costs money.

      They're only more expensive than an upfront retail product if you actually spend that much money on them - the choice is yours.

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        Don't buy the extra stuff that costs money... [snip] the choice is yours.

        True, but a "well" designed free-to-play game will quickly lose its playability if you don't regularly open your wallet - either because you can't progress or because the endless pressure to buy stuff spoils the game.

        So, yeah, don't whine if you're stupid enough to pay out a fortune, but also don't confuse "free-to-pay" with properly free or just plain good value.

        Plus, just because some people are stupid enough to fall for the sort of pressure these games exert, doesn't necessarily make it a nice thing t

    • http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/5/11/ [penny-arcade.com]

      just read this last night and fished it out of history.

    • This Penny Arcade strip [penny-arcade.com] pretty much sums it up for me.

      Mainly because it's simply not free, yes you can enjoy the games to a certain extent without paying a penny, but they are designed to squeeze as much money out of you as possible and in the long term are far more expensive than purchasing a retail product upfront.

      Well, that's why it's called "free to play".

      Nobody forces you to pay for it. Unlike WoW or EVE, I can create a LotR:O account for free. And play all I want, day after day after day. Nobody is going to force me to pay for anything.

      But there are some nice things you get if you pay money. And, of course, the things are nice enough to make you want to pay for them. That's the whole idea.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm trying out a couple of F2P web games now, Grepolis and Lacuna Expanse. (Out of a dozen and a half games I tried, these were the only ones that felt like they were actually worth playing, or indeed, ready for release.) So far it seems like practically nobody gives either one money, I don't know how they stay afloat. Presumably mostly by having low overhead...

    • As an avid player of F2P games, I see a lot of people who seem to be completely in the dark regarding what F2P really does. The majority of F2P games give you no actual competitive advantage for spending money. Those that do USUALLY have a way to attain the same things through trade in-game. Games where a definitive advantage is given to the paying players and are 100% unavailable to free subscribers are remarkably few. Does paying make life easier in many games? Yes. But free players are nearly alway

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Depends on how you play. For instance in Lord of the Rings Online you can get to max level and do end game purely for free, it just needs quite a lot of grinding to earn the points. So it's more of a balance between time spent earning points versus time spent having fun. Some have even calculated that for them and their purposes they can get more bang for the buck by buying all the quest packs and buying off limitations than by subscribing to the game.

      Of course, no game is going to be a charity free-to-p

    • by FreekyGeek (19819)

      It's a pretty simple equation: if the cost of the stuff you buy is less than what you'd pay for an average subscription (say, $15/month) then you're probably getting a pretty good deal.

      My strategy is to buy very little extra content, but I will once in a while if it's something I really want, like an unlockable class I want to play, an item that makes my life easier, or a new region to play in. I definitely NEVER pay for purely cosmetic shit like fancy clothing, or min/maxing like a weapon that does 1 or 2

  • So what kind of games are these? Never heard of any of those titles.

    • by Dails (1798748)

      Lucky for you, they're free to try:

      http://store.steampowered.com/ [steampowered.com]

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Spiral Knights is one of the titles. It's been in beta for something like two years now. The art style is somewhere between Crystal Chronicles, FF9 and World of Warcraft, plays sort of like Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past. The first hour or so is quite a bit of fun, but I haven't played past that. It plays sort of like how I would imagine a MMO of Diablo or Torchlight would play out.

  • by Pepebuho (167300) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:50AM (#36447272) Homepage

    This offer of Free games sounds just like Turkish Delights in Narnia. Steam does not care about the games, it is all about extending the DRM'd platform. The more people use Steam (and Steam's DRM) the more Steam can tell developers that to reach a sizeable market they have to be part of Steam and use Steam's DRM.

    It's all about the platform and its network effects. The larger the platform, the more relevant it becomes, the worse off we will be (as someone who decided NOT to purchase Civ V just because it uses Steam's DRM.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by twocows (1216842)
      As someone who uses Steam and loves it (among the many who do), I would recommend you try the current version before you bash it. I don't care if it's DRM if it's DRM that makes it easy for me to play my games anywhere.
      • by gman003 (1693318)
        Plus, they've made a promise to make a DRM removal patch if they ever go out of business. It isn't a legally-binding promise, AFAIK, but it still shows that they mean well.

        And pirates have already made their own DRM removal patch, so even if Valve goes out without that last patch, you won't be totally locked out.
        • Plus, they've made a promise to make a DRM removal patch if they ever go out of business. It isn't a legally-binding promise, AFAIK, but it still shows that they mean well.

          I find that very hard to believe. Even if they wanted to do that, how can they be sure they will have the opportunity to do that. If they are bought before going out of business, the new management probably won't keep this promise. Unless they have this patch ready right now, it is not certain whether they will be able to develop it when they are going out of business.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          This is infeasible. They can promise this but it won't happen. It's just one of those things that people want to believe in order to justify their love of Steam.

          If they truly wanted to do this they'd have the DRM-removal tool already in a third party escrow with a legal contract that allows them to release it even if Valve later changes its mind (ie, under new management, or if they go bankrupt and someone buys them). Which they haven't done. Plus they aren't legally allowed to do this for anything but

      • by arth1 (260657)

        I don't care if it's DRM if it's DRM that makes it easy for me to play my games anywhere.

        How about everywhen?
        Like letting your son play one game, while you play another?
        Or what when a lightning strike has knocked out your internet connection? "Offline play" requires that you go online first to enable offline play.
        Or what when you have so many games that they can't fit on a single disk partition?
        Or what when you need newer content/patches to play online than what Steam yet offers, and you have to update the game through Steam?
        And what about Steam games that add additional DRM, often conflicting

        • Like letting your son play one game, while you play another?

          im not sure how that is addressed maybe check the steam FAQs

          Or what when a lightning strike has knocked out your internet connection? "Offline play" requires that you go online first to enable offline play.

          as somebody else has stated a given game needs to be "unlocked" by going online at least once and then will fallback to offline if the network is down

          Or what when you have so many games that they can't fit on a single disk partition?
          so you can sp

          • by arth1 (260657)

            so you can spend several hundred dollars on games but not US$150 on a 2 TERABYTE hard drive??

            2 TB isn't enough to hold all Steam games. You need a GPT partitioned RAID.

            And what about notebook users? I have two 150 GB partitions on my notebook. Even if I have 100 GB free on one partition, that doesn't help if the one Steam games on is full.
            I'd even be willing to install my games on different USB keys, but Steam requires you to keep all games in a single folder.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              No they do NOT require that, they even tall you how to put games in different places.

              Moron.

              • by arth1 (260657)

                No they do NOT require that, they even tall you how to put games in different places.

                Reference?
                They only tell you hove to move your Steam folder including all games to a different place.

                Users (but not "they" as in Steam) has come up with a workaround using junctions for individual games. This, of course, depends on (a) using a file system that supports junctions, and (b) still having enough free space that the game could have been installed there, so the pre-install disk space check won't fail.

                Moron.

                Well, at least you're polite enough to sign your posts.

            • you do know that the drive im talking about is a USB PORTABLE drive so it would be well within the price range of somebody that is willing to spend a few hundred dollars on games.

              point is if you are willing to spend X on games you should be willing to spend X/10 on a drive to hold the games.

              (and btw if you map the network drive to a letter steam will work from a network drive)

        • by geekoid (135745)

          How about everywhen?

          what about it? You can use it everywhen now. It's not like other DRM where you computer upgrade breaks the DRM.

          "Like letting your son play one game, while you play another?"
          agreed. They really need a home server method

          "Or what when a lightning strike has knocked out your internet connection? "Offline play" requires that you go online first to enable offline play."

          My test (unplug the net, boot computer play offline) did not need me to go online. I have never actually seen anyone have this

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        You should care. That's like saying you don't care about living in a dictatorship as long as it's a benevolent dictatorship.

    • by syousef (465911)

      My kingdom for some points to mod you up, sir!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think you understand how (modern) Steam works. I'm guessing you haven't played it since the original Half-Life came out. "DRM"? Maybe, if by DRM you mean "a system that lets me install a game as many times as I want on as many systems as I want, syncs my save data and achievements, and allows me to play offline and forego the authentication process if I'm not connected". Yeah, really terrible DRM there, buddy.

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      I'm not seeing it.
      Having Steam for these games (which are freely available elsewhere) is like putting all your tools in one toolbox.
      But what if someone steals your toolbox?!?
      Then you kill them and get your toolbox back.
    • None of the game clients include Steam's DRM and all of the games can be downloaded and accessed from their respective websites without having Steam installed. Steam is just offering up what's freely available elsewhere in a format that makes it easy for Steam users to find.

      But hey, why let little details like that stop you from ranting about Steam's DRM and how it's ruining gaming for you.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      But Steam DRM seems pointless for online games, since online games have the DRM built-in. Ie, you can't play Champions Online without an account, there's no worries about illegally copying to game to other computers, etc. You can also get Champions Online directly from the publisher so there's no need for an extra download mechanism; in fact alternate downloads make no sense since you get all your patches directly from the publisher anyway. So it seems that Steam serves no practical value here. There is

  • I really dont care for this business model, i dont like someone having an advantage over me in a game because they spent more money than me. Its one of the things i like about WoW, that everyone on pretty equal footing, they do have some microtransaction items, but theyre strictly vanity items and have no impact on game play. I also really like what valve has done with TF2, i think it strikes a good balance. Every item is balanced, so one is not necessarily advantageous over another in every situation, so i

    • by hitmark (640295)

      Huh? So far the only real "advantage" i have seen in f2p mmo's are that you can pay to have your character get a percentage more xp for a while. Hell, ever so often they give those away for free. Basically you are balancing time vs money. If you have the time to grind your way to the top, you can do that. If not, then you can pull out your credit card and pick up the slack that way. At the end all characters have access to the same powers and items.

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)
        You haven't seen very many MMOs then. Have a look at RuneScape as one of many MMOs where paying users are offered absolutely massively more than free players, in terms of map areas (F2P get about 20% or less), items (similar proportion), skills etc. Not that there's anythign wrong with that, it's just not accurate to state that free players don't get a lot less than subscribers.
    • by DrXym (126579)
      I can only speak of LOTRO but the difference between not paying anything and paying is grind and extra constraints that require you be a really good manager of inventory / character slots. You could probably work through to the upper levels by shunning some zones, killing everything that walks in front of you, completing all the achievements (for points), not spending points on frivolous things, and continuing in this fashion all the way through. You wouldn't be disadvantaged vs someone of the same level. Y
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        LotRO is also a hybrid. It's not pure free-to-play, it's a mixture of free-to-play and micro-transaction and subscription. The same with Dungeon and Dragons Online.

        Of course paying gives you some advantage. What's amusing is when people who subscribe for $10/month complain about this because their subscription already gives them a massive advantage. "Pay to win" is irrelevant in a game that doesn't have winners and losers and where PvP is a tiny side game. But even in a cooperative game quite a lot of

    • " Its one of the things i like about WoW, that everyone on pretty equal footing, "

      False.
      In some FTP games it's money v money

      In other FTP games there is very little advantage. In DDO, you can buy some thing, but the power advantage is minimal. It's real power is in selling some special and interesting dungeons.

      In WOW it's time v time. If you don't have the inclining to spend 4-12 hours a day playing, you will never be able to compete. By the time you just about get to the power level, there is an update and

  • Please note, these are not what GamersGate is doing which is an F2P for single player games that are ad supported:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/06/14/gamesgate-explain-freegames/ [rockpapershotgun.com]

    This is regular F2P mmo's where the payoff for having people play for free is the community is bigger (small community and empty worlds can kill an mmo in a heartbeat). The games just seem to be promoted on steam now, not that much of a story to be honest.

  • all of the mentioned games can be installed and played without touching steam. And being mmo's they are updated as needed anyways. What do Steam bring to this?

    • by Hadlock (143607)
      30 million active users who are already comfortable buying virtual goods on the internet on a regular basis?

      Would you prefer they try to market their game with in-game purchases to grandmothers who are struggling to learn how to use email, and always pay in cash or check at Walmart?
    • Steam brings the ability that, on the off chance you do decide to buy something in the game, you pay someone you (theoretically) already trust rather than a whole bunch of other entities.

      The fact that you no longer have separate logins for these games is a plus, too... or at least you don't for Spiral Knights, the only one I've tried.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:34AM (#36448674)

    Here's a quick overview of the Steam announced titles.

    Global Agenda: Free Agent - I've been playing this for quite some time, back since it was "boxed product" that was going to be a MMO. The devs then actually had the integrity to say "You know what, monthly subscriptions aren't right for this...so we're just not going to do them." That evolved into its current state where it is actually completely free, and you can pay a $20 ONE TIME fee to be upgraded to Elite Agent status on your account (anyone with a boxed copy of the game on their account is automatically Elite) which unlocks a number of things, including speedier XP and more loot. You can also pay for name changes or buy a "booster" which further gives you 2x XP and Loot, plus so many "free" tokens every day. Amazingly for a free game, to get the best in game gear you don't have to buy or pay for anything if you don't want to. Global Agenda plays well on Linux through the use of WINE, at least in my experience. Onto the gameplay itself, mix "Planetside" with "Guild Wars" and you get a MMOTPS/FPS that is actually really, really fun. There's a lot of content available, open world "questing" areas like any other MMO...but you have to use your FPS/TPS skills to take down that enemy you need for the quest. PvE content, PVP content, and Agency vs Agency combat in a meta-game for map control of various "Hexes" on a grid. If your agency (guild) say, owns a hex and have built a special building on it that provides resources, it can be attacked by another enemy agency - 15+ members of your team teleport to an in-game instance of that hex (with special building) and you fight against 15 of the attacking enemy etc... Crafting is more accessible than ever and there's a nice amount of customization. Out of all the "shooter MMOs", I think Global Agenda is one of the best. It may not have the scale of Planetside, but it has a nice "Guild Wars + Tribes" mix that's really unlike most of what's out there, polished to a nice shine. I buy boosters just to keep this business plan viable.

    Champions Online: Free For All - Cryptic, the developers from the City of Heroes team, made this "sequel" if you will, to practice for their better known MMO, Star Trek Online. One thing Cryptic does better than most other MMO developers is to make you "feel" powerful. Blasting someone with a ice beam has a real "weight to it" and you feel "super" when you deploy your batman-style grappler to swing around the map. In Champions, Free "Silver" players have a wide variety of prefab archetypes that basically include a balanced set of powers along a fixed progression. If you want to mix and match core skills, you'll need the "Gold" subscription, which is like LOTRO/DDO in that it costs the standard MMO fee monthly. Gold also allows you free access to many of the "travel powers", which silver players can purchase individually if they wish. After selecting your character's powers, you can design a costume from what is likely THE most comprehensive costuming system in a MMO to date. If you want to be a hero with a tiny green head with pointy ears, a barrel chest, red hulk hands attached to robot arms, you can do that. Silver players have a lot of the content unlocked, but there will be some that need to be unlocked with a Cryptic Points (a RMT token). Those that don't want to spend anything can have a great experience and not "fall behind", provided they don't mind losing some access to certain costumes, travel powers and a couple of the Adventure Pack zones of the game. Unlike many, you can level to the cap easily in the zones available and without buying any XP-boosters. Its a good value for Silver players and has what you'd expect from a Super Hero MMO and many of the things you may not. Works in WINE on Linux, in my experience.

    Spiral Knights - Anyone play "The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords Adventure"? Spiral Knights, made by the Puzzle Pirates developer three rings (Amazingly, one of the only devs with the balls to create guild owned pirate ships that p

    • I give you all of my imaginary mod points.

    • Thank you, that list of quick reviews is *very* useful.

      I tried Champions last night. I've been wary of the title because of the bad blood between it and my beloved City of Heroes, but I thought that if I didn't need to give Cryptic any money it couldn't hurt to get a taste of the game. My first impression is that it's not bad but it breaks immersion in all the wrong ways. There's too much complication in game mechanics that should be simple (the dizzying variety of equipment that doesn't seem to have any

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