Valve’s Robin Walker says that Team Fortress 2 was a way for the company to explore MMO business. When free-to-play became a trend, they were able to experiment again in Team Fortress 2 and apply those lessons to Dota 2.

“We were starting to feel the same way about micro-transactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them,” he continued. “In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we’ve ever built to reduce risk in our company’s future. The thought that if we hadn’t done it, we’d be here today without any data or experience with service based monetization strategies is quite terrifying.”

Source: Gamasutra