Since its grand appearance at PAX Prime, Red 5 Studios' Firefall has been one of the most anticipated free-to-play MMO shooters. A PC-specific game, one would think Steam would be a great platform to host the game on. As it turns out, that's not the case.
Red 5 CEO Mark Kern addressed the issue on the official Firefall forums. Kern made it very clear htat he'd "love to find a way" to make a business relationship between Firefall and Steam work. In fact, Valve was so impressed with Firefall at PAX Prime that they did approach him about hosting on Steam. Unfortunately, Kern had to decline the offer at the time. He explained:
"Steam takes a chunk of the profit from each virtual item sale (since the game is free). This fee is quite large. It works for box games because box games don't have much development expense after the game is made. An online game, with servers, data centers, bandwidth and customer services, can incur costs of up to 60% on an ongoing basis. After Steam takes their share, there is little left over for ongoing content development or profit.
Steam, as Gabe likes to put it, has to offer a strong value proposition to developers. While it does for box games, it is less clear that it offers an online game much at this point, since it does nothing to share in the costs of operating such a game."
Before you jump on Steam and label them as greedy, Kern did clarify that Steam isn't taking 60%.
"I was referring to the oeprating costs of a large online game with full customer service support."
As you probably know by now, Firefall is an entirely free-to-play MMO shooter. There is no purchase necessary, no subscription fees, nothing. All you do is download, install, and play. There is an in-game store where you can buy items that are strictly aesthetic only. Not purchasing from the in-game store won't affect your gameplay at all.
Kern did emphasize that "if the business model can work out,then I would be happy to have it on Steam".
Be sure to check out my hands-on preview of Firefall from PAX Prime.