Valve's Project Manager/Engineer Erik Johnson has stated categorically that Valve has no intention of taking gamers' money for Steam as Microsoft does for Xbox Live & Steam's community features are not in competition with Microsoft's Games for Windows Live:
"We will not charge for The Steam Community and its features. Never even entered our mind. Part of it is to address the fact that when folks first bought Half-Life 2, Steam didn't offer many reasons to stick around. It didn't do enough for customers, and it didn't justify itself. So I suppose we're paying off a debt now."
In related news, SPOnG just received an e-mail from Valve's director of marketing, Doug Lombardi, reminding us that the much-anticipated Orange Box is available as of next Wednesday on Steam and in retailers (in the States).
SPOnG checked in with EA, which confirmed that the retail version of The Orange Box will be available from October 19th on the PC and 360 over here, with no date confirmed for the PS3 version as yet.