Day of Defeat: Source ‘Free Weekend’
The Free Weekend is a remarkably simple idea that probably requires very little work to make possible (though today’s coinciding platform update suggests that some tweaking, perhaps to VAC, was needed). And yet it could well herald a major shift in the way the industry views and provides trial software. After all, what is a better advertisement for your online game? Sending would-be customers out to find a server and get smashed by experienced players, which for all of Valve’s good intentions is what will happen come the 10th, or giving them the chance to spectate a pro tournament with live commentary and for a bit of extra revenue sponsorship? Perhaps you could go farther and take the social risk of charging a small fee. Thanks to the flexibility of connection-centred platforms like Steam, the possibilities are practically endless, and one of the most exciting prospects digital distribution brings to the table.
It seems highly likely that the HL2:CTF match broadcast and Free Weekend are Valve testing the digital waters, so to speak, for the popularity of the initiatives. As yet there is no concrete confirmation that anything is happening, but make no mistake: Valve’s plans, if this analysis is correct, are well worth waiting for.