Quake Live posted an announcement on its Steam page yesterday that shocked many longtime fans of id Software’s competitive first-person shooter: the game will no longer be free to play. Instead, it will require an initial purchase of $10 US to play. This shift is part of a greater decision to integrate Quake Live into Valve’s Steamworks service, which will allow players to use “Steam for Friends, Chat, Lobbies, Voice Chat, Server Browser, Statistics, Achievements, Anti-cheat, Trading Cards, and Workshop.” Players who already own the game do not have to pay the entry fee.
Many players are quite upset over this sudden change, however. Quake Live previously ran on a subscription-based platform, which offered additional arenas, game modes, and game server options for varying prices. Now, it is unclear whether previous subscribers will have their accounts refunded. Furthermore, players are reporting that their longtime statistics have been cleared, and that their clans, friends, and favorite server lists have been wiped.
Quake Live is an updated version of id Software’s legendary first-person shooter, Quake III Arena. It was originally released as a free-to-play, browser-based game in 2010 and is currently developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game intends to maintain Q3A’s intensely competitive environment through features like a skill-based matchmaking system, though the Quake Live team’s decision last year to move the game to Steam and rework fundamental aspects of the game to lower its entry barrier rankled many veteran players, who felt that the game’s skill cap was becoming softened. This latest development in the world of Quake Live marks another schism between the game’s developers and its playerbase. It is unclear how it will affect Quake Live’s current player retention, though one can imagine that the unforeseen dissolution of clans that have been built up over the past five years will damage the veteran playerbase’s sustainability.
Neither id Software no Bethesda have made an official response to the complaints yet. We can expect to hear their defense, as well as the responses of Quake Live’s fans, over the next few days.