In his keynote at Quakecon, John Carmack revealed that the entirely free-to-play model for Quake Live isn't working. The income from in-game advertising has not proven to be enough to support the project, which means that id will be making some changes.
In order to make the game solvent, Carmack announced that a new subscription model will be going into effect. Players who subscribe will be able to set up their own Quake Live servers and host games. No subscription will be required if you only want to play the game, however. Playing the browser-based fragfest will remain free to all.
That sounds like a nice compromise, provided that there will be enough people interested in subscribing so they can host tournaments and so forth. Hey, don't we host Quake Live tournaments? Why, I think we do.