Valve Software's Steam platform is getting into the "free-to-play" business model with publishers such as Ijji.com, which is bringing its Unreal Engine 3-powered FPS A.V.A. to the digital storefront on Tuesday.
While it's not the first time that a game has been available to play for free on Steam (the platform hosts promotional free-to-play weekends, for example), this marks the first time Steam will host games that are free to download and keep, and are supported solely by microtransactions.
Ijji is the first out of the gate with its announcement of free-to-play games for the 30 million-strong Steam, but a rep for the publisher suggested other free-to-play publishers will also be bringing their games to the platform.
A.V.A., or Alliance of Valiant Arms, is a military-themed FPS developed by Redduck out of Korea, where the free-to-play business model is prevalent. The game originally launched in 2007, and will be available on Steam at 10 a.m. PST today.
A.V.A. is also the first free-to-play title that is fully integrated with Steamworks, which will enable A.V.A. players to purchase the game's virtual currency, G-Coins, through the Steam store. With that currency, players can buy premium virtual items.
Steam A.V.A. players can also play against A.V.A. gamers who use Ijji.com's portal. The game was licensed to ijji.com for North American and European distribution by Neowiz.
[UPDATE: Valve confirmed a total of five free-to-play games that are launching on Steam today, including Ijji and Redduck's A.V.A., Perfect World's Forsaken Worlds MMORPG, Atari and Cryptic's Champion's Online Free For All, Hi Rez Studios' Global Agenda: Free Agent shooter, and Three Rings Design and Sega's Spiral Knights MMORPG.
"The introduction of free-to-play games is another example of the constant evolution of Steam," said Jason Holtman, Valve's director of business development. "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."]