Valve's giving its Steam digital distribution service a new angle with five free-to-play games plugged into Steam's back-end micro-transaction architecture. They're live right now, in fact.
Champions Online you may already know. It's an online roleplaying game that launched back in September 2009, based on the popular and long-running HERO System ruleset. The free-to-play version lets you fool around from level one through to level 40 before hitting a pay wall. The game originally went free-to-play back in January this year, but this looks like its debut appearance on Steam.
If you'd rather goof around in a future post-apocalyptic world shooter-style, there's Global Agenda: Free Agent, the second free-to-play game. According to its Steam page, "All current content of Global Agenda can be played for free," and you can "earn all of the game's current items without spending real money." There's an optional pay-wall upgrade—a one-time purchase that lets you "accelerate the rate of earning character levels, gear, and currency" while granting you "login priority, auction house and in-game mail."
Or how about Spiral Knights, a cooperative action-adventure game where you "fight monsters, solve puzzles and discover treasures together," all the while battling through changing environs toward the core of a clock-like world. This one appears to be truly free-to-play, not "freemium."
Fourth up, there's Alliance of Valiant Arms, a near-future military-style action game that supposes the Republic of the Commonwealth of Independent States—the satellites formed from the Soviet Union's collapse—opt to reunite under a conservative ultranationalist. Cue fighting between U.S. and European Union forces, and your chance to participate as either a Point Man, Rifle Man, or Sniper.
And last up, there's Forsaken World, an online roleplaying game from Perfect World that launched back in March to, well, it's hard to say what kind of reviews, since only six outlets have reviewed it so far at Metacritic. Its description colors it "a dark, fantasy world" with five races, eight classes, 10 professions, "floating guild command centers," and a PvP system that lets you "capture your enemies' Soul Orbs to replenish HP, MP or to cast special skills during heat of battle.
Look for exclusive content within each of these games, leading with Spiral Knights today and wrapping with Alliance of Valiant Arms on Sunday, June 19th.