Last week we reported that Valve Software added several free-to-play titles to its Steam digital distribution platform. These included Spiral Knights, Forsaken World, Champions Online: Free For All, Global Agenda: Free Agent and Alliance of Valiant Arms. In-game transactions in all of the titles will be supported by Steam's micro-transaction backend system that is available to Steamworks partners and currently used in Valve's Team Fortress 2.
Now there's talk that Team Fortress 2 will actually go free-to-play (F2P) as well. "Drkirby" over on NeoGAF was digging through the registry and uncovered what looked to be a test version of the supposed F2P game, listed as "Valve TestApp440 – Test 1" to conceal its real name. Drkirby went on to look up #440 and discovered that it's attached to Team Fortress 2 – the number is even shown in the game's product URL.
According to the registry entry, the TestApp440 is check-marked under the "Subscriptions" tab as having no cost, but that could also mean that the current test doesn't require a fee. There's also indication that there will be a "low violence" version, slapped with a DE tag meaning Deutsch, aka German ("LowViolenceInRestrictedCountries=1").
Team Fortress 2 is a team-based multiplayer game for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 first introduced as part of The Orange Box "bundle" back in Q4 2007. The cartoony, team-oriented game was then released as a standalone PC title on Steam in April 2008. As of Q3 2010, Team Fortress 2 sold over seven million units worldwide, and currently sells for $9.99 on Steam. Given its age and established user-base, Team Fortress 2 could easily slip into F2P mode and reel in potential customers previously not willing to part with ten bucks.
At this point, the F2P Team Fortress 2 is mere speculation but a definite possibility. Stay tuned as more will undoubtedly be unearthed soon.