Team Fortess 2 is considered one of the industry’s more infamous games, due to it’s long development cycle. But if lead designer Robin Walker achieved anything with the title, it’s that it served as a good test subject for exploring other possibilities of game design.
Talking to GIBiz, Walker said, “MMOs were the dominant story in the industry, and one concern we had was that we might not be able to survive if we didn’t build one.” Hence the persistent item design and storage.
Then micro-transactions and free-to-play came into the picture. “We were starting to feel the same way about micro-transactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them,” says Walker. So Valve decided to go to the well again with TF2.
A lot of this experimenting has reshaped the way Valve looks at new trends like F2P. “In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we’ve ever built to reduce risk in our company’s future. The thought that if we hadn’t done it, we’d be here today without any data or experience with service based monetization strategies is quite terrifying,” says Walker.