Valleywag says that videogames, unlike music, can't be made free because there's no sideline business in which to make money, like music's concert tour or merchandise sales. Oh really? What about advertising? Or land? Or additional levels? Or clothing and furniture? Or the various powerups, gold, armor, characters and other upgrades options that allow all these online multiplayer games to be free?
That's to say nothing of the dozens of demo games I get free every month, between Xbox Live and the DVDs that come free with games mags. A demo doesn't count because it's not the full game, even if it's got hours of gameplay? That's like saying Skype isn't really free calling because you have to pay for the premium version that allows you to call regular phone lines.
The points is that digital distribution lowers the marginal cost of putting games into the hands of players close enough to zero to encourage every pricing and business model possible, including free. This is, of course, nothing new--Doom started this in 1993. Says Wikipedia: "Released as shareware, people were encouraged to distribute Doom further, and did so: in 1995, Doom was estimated to have been installed on more than 10 million computers. Although most users did not purchase the registered version, over one million copies have been sold."