Quake Live Gets Steamworks, Is No Longer Free-To-Play

I sometimes long for the golden era of rocket jumps and jump pads, but technically those days never ended. Epic are still making a game called Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 persists as Quake Live [official site], a remake-with-bells-on released in 2010 which came to Steam last year. Now it’s switched from free-to-play to a one-time payment model and those bells have been joined by whistles, as it’s been updated with Steamworks support.

Previously Quake Live was free to play but with a subscription service that gave you access to extras like stat-tracking for $36 a year. That’s now gone, replaced with a one-time $10/£7 entry fee for new players. If you’d ever previously installed the game on Steam however, subscriber or not, you can continue to play without now needing to buy it. If you were a subscriber but you didn’t install the game on Steam in time however, you can still contact Quake Live support for assistance in getting the game without paying extra.

Steamworks support brings with it a huge host of changes, outlined over at the game’s Steam update page. That includes “Steam for Friends, Chat, Lobbies, Voice Chat, Server Browser, Statistics, Achievements, Anti-cheat, Trading Cards, and Workshop.”

There are a lot of benefits there – especially the ease of downloading custom levels through the Workshop – but the closure of the existing service means the loss of five-years worth of player stats and friends lists. It means that popular community sites like QLRanks no longer function.

Here’s the trailer they released when the game first came to Steam, which is still lovely:


  1. terves says:

    Everyone who ever INSTALLED Quake Live gets to keep playing it for free forever, not just subscribers. According to Quake Live lead programmer sponge that’s somewhere just north of 3 million people.

    • terves says:

      Installed it on Steam, that is. Doesn’t apply to people who used to play on the old standalone client.

      • JiminyJickers says:

        Damn, I never played it through Steam, this sucks. I’m not paying for this, I’ll play some more Unreal Tournament for now.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Ah, that’s the tidbit of info that every article I’ve read has yet to mention! I thought I’d got lucky and slipped through the net or something when I successfully joined a server this morning.

    • Yachmenev says:

      2.589 million according to Steamspy. link to steamspy.com

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Ta – fixed. I was confused by Id saying that people who subscribed but didn’t install on Steam before the switch could contact their tech support for assistance in getting it without paying.

      • Czrly says:

        I played it for a bit but was never a premium subscriber and I never played on Steam – so can I contact them for access or is that only for either Steam players or those who paid for the premium subscription? This is pretty silly, in my opinion.

  2. iainl says:

    Bear in mind I’ve not paid attention since the original launch. But wasn’t the whole point of this that it was Quake III Arena, but in a browser window and with a F2P monetisation structure?

    By tying everything into Steam and removing the F2P elements, isn’t this just vanilla Q3A with a new matchmaking server?

    • terves says:

      This is id basically pulling the plug on QL. They took the central servers down and will never update the game again. It’s less of a change in monetization strategy and more of a tasteful funeral.

      • Stevostin says:

        IMO this has far more potential than F2P model for such a game. QIII stands as “the skill game”, it’s for people looking for the legendary gameplay skillwise. This is a niche, and niche isn’t F2P.

        • epeternally says:

          Why isn’t it available free to Quake III owners on Steam, though? It’s basically the same content, seems absurd to now be charging people for it twice.

          • Yakumo says:

            Q3A steam stats – link to steamcharts.com
            24 hour peak sixteen players, sure they may be many not using steam, but run a server browser and most servers are just packed with bots.

            QuakeLive steam stats – link to steamcharts.com
            24 hour peak 1,583 players

            QuakeLive has had hundreds of little tweaks from Q3A since it came out 6 years ago, FPS independent physics, unlagged code, easily editable hud system, very comprehensive settings menu, and as of this release now has SteamWorks, Valve Anti Cheat, Steam Friends integration and in-built voice comms, which set it apart from Q3A even more.

          • trindermon says:

            kind think its disingenuous to call it the same content, in the years that QL has been runing, there are an awful lot of new maps etc all to a very high policy (most look like they are almost done in a different engine to the originals they are so good)….

            Then out of the box clan arena, etc etc.

            If you want to play quake 3, this is *the* way to do it now. There new match browser has gotten worse than it used to be however (in that filtering for specific game types seems only achievable through tags, and searching and not just a “show me all CTF games”.

  3. Megazell says:

    When it’s on Linux natively and will also support LAN outright – I will show my support.

  4. Stevostin says:

    Quake III was meh
    Quake III CTF was cool.
    Quake III Rocket Arena was the best multi FPS ever IMO. This one I played a lot. It removed the design flaws of QIII (map domination, emphasis on boring “timing” skills, few rocket jumps), added a marvelous design for people wanting to play together and allowed for 2vs2 which is just the best possible setting for interesting multiplayer (team work and individual achievement at their strongest mix).

    They’re f****g around with Quake now. It’s been years and still no RA. Well as it is it’s still a good CTF game and a boring FPS 1v1 setup. Oh and sure there are deathmatchs.

    • Unruly says:

      I preferred RA2 over RA3. Well, Quake 2 over Quake 3 in general. Q2 was fast without being too fast. Q3, on the other hand, did everything it could to make it faster – jump pads, acceleration ramps, etc – and that took away from it in my opinion. Maybe it’s because I was never that great and Q3 made it all the more apparent, but at least I had a chance in Q2.

  5. aliksy says:

    I remember playing Quake Live a while ago, but it seemed like most everyone else playing was really good at quake. My “better than my friends” level of skill wasn’t good enough for me to have any fun. Maybe they’ve improved match making since then?

    • iainl says:

      I suspect the problem is that matchmaking can only match you with other people playing. And most of them are going to be experts at this stage.

  6. catscratch says:

    If you miss RA3, play Clan Arena. Basically the same thing. Though I can hardly understand the idea of calling map control boring, but hey, I’m a dueller at heart.

    ID runs QuakeLive at a loss. The suits aren’t happy. I’m sure they’re looking for a way to either make it turn a profit, or wash their hands of it entirely. They know that there’s a small but rabid fanbase out there, and they know that Quake is where ID’s heart and soul is at. Hell that’s why they call it QuakeCon. So they don’t want to just pull the plug. They’re probably thinking “let’s turn the thing over to the community and let them have a go at it” while slowly taking their own servers offline and cutting off support.

    It sucks, really.

    They never had a good way to monetize the game. The standard F2P models don’t work with it. What’s the point of selling cosmetics in a game where YOU as the player determine how your opponent looks like? You can buy all the fancy hats you want but your opponent will never see them. You can’t sell mappacks, because the community is small already and doing so will fragment it further. They wanted it to be ad-based, with in-game billboards displaying ads, but that works in a game with a large player pool, not QL which barely scrapes by. Who’s gonna want to advertise in a game with 500 concurrent players?

    Quake’s business model revolved around it being popular. But the days of arena shooters being big are over. People want easier games, not games where you will be bodied mercilessly for 200 games straight with no chance until you start getting over the learning curve. Arena shooters are destined to be niche, and QL needs a niche business model.

    Actually, what Quake needs is a new game. Something that is pretty, up-to-date, and is released with a lot of fanfare. This way, a lot of people will all start playing at the same time. Right now, there are new people coming into quake, but they don’t have a huge pool of other new people to play against, so they get matched up with veterans. They get destroyed, say “Screw this!” and leave, understandably. So Quake repels new players, even when it needs new players.

    But a new game will let a lot of people start at roughly the same level. Yeah, yeah, arena FPS skills are transferable, blah blah blah, but a lot of noobs starting all at once means that a new player will have other new players to play against. This will ease up on the learning curve and let new people have fun and maybe get some wins in. This way they’ll stick around long enough to get into it, while us old vets will still have our T4 servers tucked away in a corner of the internet where we can whine, BM, and kick each other to our hearts’ content.

    This probably won’t happen in QL though. We need Q5. Same as Q3, just prettier. Who knows, if Doom doesn’t bomb, maybe we’ll get it next.

    Either way, Quake players will find a way to keep playing Quake. Even if it means going back to Q3, or playing Reflex. These games are all the same thing really, and that’s all we want, and if it doesn’t exist, we’ll find a way to make it happen. Quake’s like an abusive mistress that you can never leave, cause nobody else ***** you in quite the same way.

    • Unruly says:

      I dislike map control because the first time you die you’re put at a severe disadvantage. Typically, you end up respawning with a totally worthless weapon(Q3 kinda fixed this) and no ammo while your opponent has meanwhile scooped up all the best weapons and armored up again. Sure, it makes you learn to fight with whatever, but as someone who’s somewhere in the middle skill range I don’t want to play a game where no matter what I’m dominated and stuck with a little peashooter for half my playing time.

      So Rocket Arena will always be my pick over vanilla DM.

  7. dorobo says:

    Beginning of the end. And clan arena is the best mode ever.

  8. Czrly says:

    I played Quake III Arena more than any other multiplayer game, at LANs, back when those were a thing – probably more than all others put together. When I learned about this, though, a few years ago, I was really excited to give it a whirl. It never felt the same. There was something about the movement or weapon-switching or physics that simply didn’t feel quite right. That didn’t really matter, though, because the match-making (particularly 1-on-1, the only mode of play I really enjoy besides instagib) was so pathetic I stopped playing within a day or so.

    Last week, I tried out the new Unreal Tournament pre-alpha and that is already a thousand times better than this could ever be. UT isn’t Quake – you can’t strafe-jump, it’s slower and the maps are far more complex – but this new UT is already so polished I think it is going to be awesome, nonetheless. Sorry, Quake, but I have officially changed teams!

    • Yakumo says:

      The feel of it, generally movement and the weapons still suck, if you didn’t ever like any previous UT games for those reasons then the new one isn’t any better yet.

      Just nothing comes close to Quake once you start to get into it enough to learn a bit of strafe jumping and rocket jumping :)

  9. CaptainH0wdy says:

    Honestly, anybody who never played Quake on at least a semi- high level is simply not able to form a valid opinion.