Steam starts offering free-to-play games

Valve's PC and Mac game download service Steam is moving into a new era starting today. As announced on the Steam web site, the service will now begin to offer downloads of free-to-play games. The first games include titles like the super hero MMO Champions Online: Free For All, the sci-fi action game Global Agenda: Free Agent, the co-op themed game Spiral Knights, the fantasy MMO Forsaken World and the first person shooter Alliance of Valiant Arms.

In addition to adding these games to its growing library of titles, all of the games will be using "Steam's micro-transaction backend system". The system was previously developed by Valve for its multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2. It started offering an in-game store to purchase new weapons and items for the game's users, some of which were made by Team Fortress 2 community members.

Starting on Wednesday and ending on Sunday, all of the five free-to-play games on Steam will offer exclusive in-game items for one day only. It will begin with Spiral Knights on Wednesday. Specifics of each game's special deals will be revealed each day.

This new move by Valve shows that Steam is taking the growing free-to-play PC game genre more seriously and that it has enlisted game developers to use its micro-transaction service it first created for Team Fortress 2 as a way to generate even more revenue. Valve has kept the financial details of its Steam service a closely guarded secret but it has announced it has about 30 million users.

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