Eurogamer


Valve's decision to make online shooter Team Fortress 2 free to play was a resounding success, it's said.


Revenue from the game was 12 times higher than the game's monthly sales following the June 2011 switch, Valve's Joe Ludwig said during a Gamasutra attended GDC panel.


Prior to that, when Valve introduced the item store to the game, money made from the sale of virtual items was four times larger than revenues from sales of the game itself.


In hindsight, it seems like the decision to go F2P was a no brainer, but according to Ludwig, Valve were worried about it.


"This is just the beginning of taking the lessons we've learned from TF2 and applying them to Steam itself," Ludwig said. "It was risky, everything could have gone horribly wrong, but we felt it was worth the risk to try the new business model."


Valve's decision to make TF2 F2P was motivated by issues with the triple-A boxed game business.


"The trouble is, when you're a AAA box game, the only people who can earn you new revenue are the people who haven't bought your game," Ludwig explained.


"This drives you to build new content to attract new people, There's a fundamental tension between building the game to satisfy existing players and attract new players."


In October last year Valve boss Gabe Newell said TF2's user base had increased by a factor of five since it adopted the free-to-play model.


The game enjoys a 20 to 30 per cent conversion rate of people who are playing who buy something - much higher than other F2P games.

Eurogamer


Upcoming Valve games Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will support the Razer Hydra PC motion controller.


Motion gaming support has been added to over 250 of the most popular games on Steam, including Left 4 Dead 2, Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, via creator Sixense's MotionCreatorTM 2.0 software.


Steam users will get motion control updates for current and future titles automatically from now on. A new in-game overlay lets you view control maps for the Razer Hydra as you play.


The Razer Hydra uses an electromagnetic field, via a base station, to track hand movements as you hold two motion-sensing controllers, both complete with thumb sticks.


We first heard of the Razer Hydra Valve love affair early last year, when we discovered those who owned the Razer Hydra were entitled to exclusive Portal 2 content.

Eurogamer


As the wait for news on the next Half-Life game goes on, Valve boss Gabe Newell has explained the famed developer's current strategy on revealing new titles.


Valve's experience with Half-Life and Half-Life 2 caused a rethink, leading the company to back off from talking about future games until they're good and ready, Newell told Penny Arcade.


"Part of the reason that we backed off talking so much about what was happening in the future is that when we've done that in the past, you know, with Half-Life 1 it was a year after we originally said it would be, Half-Life 2 basically if you go and read the forum posts apparently took us 50 or 60 years to get done, so we're trying to be careful not to get people too excited and then have to go and disappoint them.


"So we're sort of reacting in the other direction and saying, 'okay, well let's have things a little more baked before we start getting people all excited about it.'"


Valve's continued silence over the next Half-Life, be it Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or Half-Life 3, has frustrated many of its fans.


Earlier this month 10,000 Valve fans logged on to play Half-Life 2 en-masse in an attempt to make their campaign for more Half-Life information heard. It was the result of a Steam Group, called A Call for Communication (Half-Life), that is lobbying Valve to release more information on the future of the much-loved series.


"The lack of communication between Valve and the Half-Life community has been a frustrating experience. While continued support for current and future products is greatly appreciated, fans of the Half-Life series have waited years for a word on when the franchise will return," the group's description reads.


"We're acutely aware of how much we annoy our fans and it's pretty frustrating to us when we put them into that situation," Newell told Penny Arcade, while agreeing with the suggestion that there is tension between all the various projects the company is interested in doing.


"We try to go as fast as we can and we try to pick the things that we think are going to be most valuable to our customers and if there's some magic way we can get more work done in a day then we'd love to hear about it.


"But we recognize that it's been a long time whereas we have so many games that people really love - Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, not a whole lot of Ricochet enthusiasts out there, and at the same time we want to be making sure that those games and those stories and those characters are moving forward while also making sure that we don't just get into terminal sequelitis."


In June 2009 Newell said he had "very good reasons" for not discussing Half-Life 2: Episode 3, but refused to be drawn on them or when the developer would be able to open up about the concluding chapter in the FPS saga.


"I get a ton of email every day saying why aren't you talking about Episode 3? And there are very good reasons why we're not talking about Episode 3, which I can't talk about yet, but I will," Newell said at the time.


And last year, Newell told Eurogamer he wouldn't trade the "enthusiasm and straightforwardness of our fans for a quieter inbox".

Eurogamer


Valve is selling a virtual ring for use in free-to-play online shooter Team Fortress 2 - for $100.


But before you grab your pitchforks and head for Valve HQ know this: by the Half-Life developer's own admission: "It's basically useless."


"If there's one thing we know more about than hats, it's probably romance," Valve wrote on the Team Fortress 2 blog.


"Remember that romantic scene in Say Anything where John Cusack holds up a boom box in the rain? Well, we hold stuff up in the rain all the time. Golf clubs. Our wallets. An umbrella. Whatever's handy, really. And do the girls go for it? Hard to tell - it rains pretty hard in Seattle, so the limited visibility combined with wind shear makes it tough to see the appreciation on the ladies' faces.


"Anyway, today's Valentine's Day, and that means if you're dating or married, you're going to drop somewhere in the area of $600 tonight on flowers, dinner, babysitters, hot air balloon rides, a hospital bill for rain-related holding injuries (Seattle only). It adds up fast, and you might be asking yourself at the end of the night, 'Was it all worth it?' The answer, emphatically, is no. Happy Valentine's Day, stupid.


"But wait! What if we told you that you could waste as much as 1/6 less money this Valentine's Day? What if we added that you could do it without even leaving your house? Then what if we sweetened the deal further by saying sorry for calling you stupid earlier?


"Introducing the 'Something Special For Someone Special'. It's ring-shaped, it's gift-wrapped, it's basically useless, and it's really expensive ($100!). In short, it's the most accurate simulation of an actual Valentine's Day gift ever made available to the public."


We're not sure why anyone would buy the Something Special For Someone Special ring, but we're sure someone will. In that case, it's probably best you know that it's not tradable, only giftable.


When your special someone clicks on the item from their backpack, a menu will open that lets them accept your proposal.


If the proposal is accepted a message will be broadcast to the entire Team Fortress community that will include your name, your special someone's name and the name of the ring.


The item then turns into two matching diamond bands you can wear.


Go nuts.

Eurogamer


10,000 Valve fans logged on to play Half-Life 2 en-masse in an attempt to make their campaign for more Half-Life information heard.


But that number is far less than the 50,000 users expected to make the gesture.


The A Call for Communication (Half-Life) Steam Group is lobbying Valve to release more information on the future of the Half-Life series - be that Half-Life 3 or Half-Life 2: Episode 3.


Still, the group managed to raise Half-Life 2's player figures during the event to 11th on Steam's listing, with in-game numbers up from the average 3000 active players to more than 13,000, Kotaku reports.


Group members have more than doubled since reaching 20,000 last week.


"The lack of communication between Valve and the Half-Life community has been a frustrating experience. While continued support for current and future products is greatly appreciated, fans of the Half-Life series have waited years for a word on when the franchise will return," the group's description reads.


Valve has yet to comment on the fan campaign. Did you take part? Was it fun?

Eurogamer


Valve has teased a secret new Team Fortress 2 project - and it isn't hats.


"The TF2 team is working on something brand new for 2012," reads an update on the Team Fortress 2 blog.


"We can't tell you what it is, because they won't tell us, but what they WILL say is that it isn't a hat, it isn't a map, and go away.


"From this we can only conclude that the TF2 team is working on some ungodly hat-map hybrid that you can wear on your head while you run around in it. You heard it here first. Also last, because they just told us it's not that either.


"But it's really cool."


2012 content planned for the hugely successful free-to-play FPS includes the last "Meet The Team" video short, this time for the Pyro.


"There will be blood," reads the blog. "And not like in the movie There Will Be Blood, either, where there was only blood at the end, and not even very much of it. Ours has lots of blood pretty much all the way through."


Meanwhile, Valve announced the now live Steam Workshop Blog, which will keep players abreast of all the developments concerning the Mann Co. Store.


Valve said there have been nearly 4000 user-generated items submitted to the store so far, and will continue shipping them throughout the year. You can vote on the items you'd like to see on the blog.


And finally, Valve points us to the second annual Saxxy Awards, which will be bigger and better "due to the imminent unveiling of another secret". The Saxxy Awards showcase the best Team Fortress 2 replays.

Eurogamer


A fan campaign designed to encourage more Half-Life information from developer Valve plans a mass gameplay session this Saturday.


Steam group A Call for Communication (Half-Life), which boasts more than than 29,500 members, has organised a huge Half-Life 2 play session this weekend, designed to raise awareness of its campaign by boosting the game up Steam's most-played list.


The fan collective aims to encourage information from Valve on when the Half-Life series might return, be that in the form of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or a fully-fledged Half-Life 3.


Group numbers have swelled from 10,000 members since the campaign first hit the headlines two weeks ago.


A Call for Communication's Half-Life 2 play session begins at 7pm UK time this Saturday night.


"Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: 'Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication,'" the Steam group's description reads.


"Hopefully such attention will be recognized by Valve, and the community's voice will be heard."

Eurogamer


More than 10,000 gamers have joined the Steam Group campaigning for more Half-Life communication from Valve.


In other words, fans want to know when the series will return, be it via Half Life 2: Episode 3 or Half-Life 3.


"The lack of communication between Valve and the Half-Life community has been a frustrating experience," stated the group. "While continued support for current and future products is greatly appreciated, fans of the Half-Life series have waited years for a word on when the franchise will return.


"So, Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message:

"Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."

A Call for Communication, Steam Group


"Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."


The Steam Group, named A Call for Communication (Half-Life), added that, "Waiting patiently for over four years is a daunting task, especially when E3 comes and goes without any beat of a Half-Life pulse, time and time again."


"Valve had stated that information was scheduled to be released towards the end of 2008, and we believe that if they have chosen, for whatever reason, to withhold this information, fans should at least be acknowledged in some way, regardless of developmental plans for the next Half-Life project.


"The entire trilogy of episodes was supposed to be completed and released by 2007, and if Valve have decided to do other things for the time being, that is fine; all that we ask for is a basic response on the matter, and to let fans know whether or not the current story arc is scheduled to conclude at another point in time.


"In addition: This message is in no way, shape or form attempting to rush the development of the Half-Life series; in fact, most members agree that Valve should take the time needed to deliver a complete and polished product."


The post concluded with a line asking gamers to join the A Call for Communication Steam Group if they agreed with the sentiment.


"Hopefully such attention will be recognized by Valve," the post closed, "and the community's voice will be heard."


Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was released alongside Portal and Team Fortress 2 in autumn 2007. Since then, Valve has produced Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Alien Swarm and Portal 2.


Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are in development.


Few of those games originated inside Valve, however - most were ideas that belonged to external teams or creators Valve eventually hired.


Some observers suggest that Steam's development has hampered Valve's game development; in building the world's most successful PC game digital distribution service, Valve neglected to create new games of its own.

Eurogamer


Valve has announced the second annual Christmas-themed update for free-to-play shooter Team Fortress 2.


The Australian Christmas update part two includes two retro-futuristic "Dr. Grordbort" class packs for the Engineer and Pyro, designed by Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore.


It adds CP_Foundry, a new five-cap control point map designed by Valve's Team Fortress 2 team and featuring 12 map-specific achievements.


The update also adds 14 new Christmas-themed weapons, hats and items made by the Team Fortress community's item creators using the Steam Workshop.


For Christmas, Valve has knocked up to 75 per cent off over 50 items in the Mann Co. in-game store. This sale lasts until 2nd January 2012. Valve has also doubled the in-game item drop rate for the first week of the event.

Eurogamer


A Valve employee has been spotted out in the wild sporting a Half Life 3 T-shirt.


As reported by VG247, the unnamed individual was snapped by Chandana Ekanayake of Monday Night Combat studio Uber Entertainment at a Seattle developer event last night.


Ekanayake then posted the image to his Twitter feed, adding that he had asked permission to take the picture.


So, just a spot of cruel trolling on the part of the individual concerned, or is something else afoot?

'Valve employee spotted in Half Life 3 shirt' Screenshot 1
...

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