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Valve has announced Steam support for free-to-play titles with immediate effect.
Five launch titles are available now: Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valliant Arms (AVA).
Starting tomorrow with Spiral Knights and ending on Sunday with AVA, each one will get a 'F2P Game of the Day' slot which will see exclusive in-game extras up for grabs.
"The introduction of Free to Play games is another example of the constant evolution of Steam," commented Valve exec Jason Holtman.
"Free to Play games offer new game genres and game experiences for customers, while offering developers and publishers new revenue opportunities and the ability to reach customers in areas of the world where the traditional packaged goods model is less popular than F2P."
Cryptic Studios has been acquired by the Chinese MMO maker Perfect World, reports Gamasutra. According to the report, the company paid approximately $50.3 million for the studio, and acquired a 100% equity interest in Cryptic. Atari had been looking to sell Cryptic recently, having only acquired it in 2008.
"This strategic acquisition will add attractive game titles to our portfolio, which will help us further penetrate into the U.S. and global online game markets," said Perfect World CEO and chairman Michael Chi. "More importantly, Cryptic Studios' highly reputable development team and its technology platform will further strength our well-established R&D capabilities. We deem this as another noteworthy achievement of our global expansion efforts."
Cryptic Studios - creator of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Champions Online - has a buyer: Chinese MMO outfit Perfect World.
Perfect World paid $50.3 million (£30.4 million / 35 million) for Cryptic. That's 55 per cent more than Atari paid for Cryptic in 2008 - $27.5 million.
How Champions Online and Star Trek Online will slot into Perfect World's portfolio is unclear. With Champions Online already free-to-play, however, the transition should be painless.
Perfect World talks of the purchase as a great way to charge West. Will this mean significant investment for Cryptic's new almost-but-not-quite MMO Neverwinter?
It looks like Atari,
"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace," Atari explained in an earnings report.
Atari will continue to run and support Cryptic's MMORPGs Star Trek Online and Champions Online while it looks to sell the studio, Gamasutra says. Development on Neverwinter, Cryptic's co-op-oriented take on the D&D RPG series, will continue at least for now. Neverwinter was announced in August 2010, then slated to launch on PC in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Cryptic lost $7.5 million in the past fiscal year, though this was down from a $17.9 million loss the year before. The studio boasted that Champions Online's revenues increased by over 1000% after it went free-to-play in January 2011 but evidently this wasn't quite enough.
Cryptic community representative 'WishStone' took to the forums, explaining, "Right now I have no further details other than what has been mentioned elsewhere. Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects... and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.
When Atari picked up Cryptic only 29 months ago, Atari CEO David Gardener commented that "This is exactly the type of company we wanted to acquire in order to build Atari for the 21st century." Short century.
Atari is to shed Champions Online and Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios.
According to the publisher's latest earnings report, the California-based studio was classed as a "discontinued operation" as of 31st March this year.
"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the three changing marketplace," explained the report.
"Therefore, the Company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate."
Cryptic had initially struggled following its purchase by Atari back in 2008, but had recently shown signs of an upswing. Losses were 5.3 million for the 2010/11 fiscal year, up from 12.6 million in 2009/2010.
Gamasutra reports that Atari will continue to support all active Cryptic titles while a buyer is sought, and development on its Neverwinter project will continue as normal.
A post from a Cryptic employee on the Star Trek Online forums suggested it wasn't all doom and gloom on the studio floor.
"The headline is chosen a little unfortunate by the colleagues at Gamasutra and makes it sound like we're a kicked puppy standing in the rain. That's not the case," stated a community representative.
"Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate."
Star Trek Online was Cryptic's most recent launch back in February 2010, scoring 6/10 from Eurogamer's Oli Welsh.
Publisher Atari is "divesting" itself of MMO specialists Cryptic Studios, which it snapped up in 2008. It's trying to sell the creators of Star Trek Online and Champions Online after losing Atari millions. [Atari Results (PDF)]