Fortunately for Valve, its four-year efforts ended up paying off. Once the item store was introduced, revenues from item sales alone were four times larger than revenues from sales of TF2 itself, and after the free-to-play transition was finished, overall revenue was up 12 times higher than monthly TF2 sales were.
The success of both Team Fortress 2and League of Legendsas immensely popular (and profitable) free to play (funded by in game item purchases) is fascinating; it’s as if they’ve turned the double decade “release a game for $80″ meta on its head, observed and learnt from the startup freemium model and cashed in bigtime. The developers, as above, are obviously winning, and the playerbase arguably is too as any multiplayer game thrives in having a larger community & a business model where frequent developer updates are incentivised.
That said, i’m very glad you can’t “buy” the TV missile in BF3