Whether it's charging for video strategy guides or a new weapon, Xbox Live has opened a completely new revenue stream for companies willing to produce additional content for games already released. PC companies such as Valve and Epic Games did the same thing on the PC years earlier, but often charged nothing for the added content. That hasn't been the approach in the console space, however, but Valve says they won't conform.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Team Fortress 2 Designer Robin Walker laid down a mandate for their approach to downloadable content. "You buy the product, you get the content," he said. "We make more money because more people buy it, not because we try and nickel-and-dime the same customers."
Consequently, additional maps, weapons, character classes or what ever else Valve and co. decide to produce for Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2 or Portal will be free, no matter if you're playing on the PC, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. According to Valve, introducing new, free content has repaid them with additional sales of the original product.
Epic Games has followed a similar philosophy for their Unreal Tournament series. Unreal Tournament 3's scheduled for a release on the same platforms later this year and given Epic Games' once public intention to release Gears of War content free, we'll be keeping a close eye on how the rest of the competition reacts to this new variable.