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Valve: Team Fortress 2 Now Permanently Free To Play, Download Now for Mac or Windows

Good news to all fans of Valve and first person shooters because Team Fortress 2, the popular shooter from the creators of Steam, is now officially free to play, forever for Windows and Mac. According to an interview with Valve’s Robin Walker, he revealed that the 4 year old shooter can now be played for free and it will be supported by in-game item purchases.

Team Fortress 2 For Windows and Mac
Since its release in October 2007, this highly acclaimed first person shooter have gone through many changes and it has definitely evolved. And by shifting to a free-to-play business model, this is perhaps the game's largest leap yet. According to Walker:

The more we’ve experimented, the more we’ve learned there are fundamentally different kinds of customers, each with their own way of valuing the product.

Team Fortress 2's shift to free-to-play was already long rumored and believed to an inevitable announcement, but this was indeed sooner than expected. Walker said that they have been looking into the idea since September last year:

We’ve been toying with the idea of making Team Fortress free-to-play ever since the Mann-conomy update. The data we got back from that update leads us to believe that TF2 would be more successful as a completely free product.

So if they are going free to play, how does the game make money? Well Team Fortress is known for having an in-game store where players can buy items that they can use in their game to customize their character such as hats. Now, instead of charging new players for a fee upfront, players will be charged instead once they purchase from the in-game item store. This business model is similar to free to play MMOs and iPhone Apps where you can play the game for free but players can purchase items that could enhance gameplay or net them a competitive advantage. But with Team Fortress 2, in-game purchases are only for accessories with little to no effect on the gameplay. Although it seems Valve is looking to reconsider that:

Another way we think of it is that there are a class of players who will never pay us a dime, for a variety of reasons. We’re not upset by that, it’s just a constraint we need to design around. The interesting problem to solve is how to make those freeloaders produce value for our paying customers. Obviously, getting those free players into the game is the first step to doing that.

Team Fortress 2
This is also a strategy of Valve to attract more users to download and install Steam, the company's own game store and manager:

Any player who buys something in TF2?s store will then be familiar with the purchasing process used in all these other games, and that removes one of the biggest barriers to entry for them buying something in those other games, and vice versa.

As said before, Valve has been experimenting with a free-to-play model for quite some time now. Many were expecting that Dota 2 will be the first guinea pig but this definitely a good fit for Team Fortress 2 as well.

The data we got back from that update leads us to believe that TF2 would be more successful as a completely free product. We're always improving on the relationship we have with our customers, and we’re willing to run experiments if we think it will help us learn how to do that better.

If you want to give Team Fortress 2 a try, then you can download Steam at their main website, register an account (it's free) and download the game through Steam.

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