TF2’s Hats For Japan

By Alec Meer on March 24th, 2011 at 8:13 am.

No you can't trade for 'em, tight-ass

There are now more gaming-related fundraising schemes for victims of the natural disaster in Japan than it’s possible to enumerate. Hopefully all have been of some use, even the ones that seemed to involve more than a little self-promotion en route.

Now it’s Valve’s turn to stretch some fanbase muscle: via the quiet microtransaction giant that is Team Fortress 2, they’ve weaved a limited edition set of hats and noise makers, all proceeds from which will go to the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in the suffering nation.

They’re not kidding around here – the uber-est of the new items will set you back $99, of which Valve themselves apparently don’t see a penny. That’s for the Magnanimous Monarch, which looks like this:

You’ll certainly be noticed, anyway. Does the hitbox go all the way to the top of that thing?

There’s also the rather more affordable Humanitarian’s Hachimaki ($7.99), the Benefactor’s Kanmuri ($19.99) and two new noise makers ($0.49/$1.99). They can’t be obtained in any other way than donating, and will be entirely wiped from the store come April 6.

Obviously, any and all gestures of this kind raise questions of whether and how much the apparently philanthropic company benefits from making them. That may be so. It may also be true that direct donations from the companies in question could amount to far more money than could be accrued from fans. It’s a dense and cyclic argument- but the net result is money going to disaster relief in Japan, and increased awareness amongst gamers of the need for said relief. Promotion – e.g. this post – is an entirely inevitable by-product, not necessarily a cynical one. Perhaps there’s always a better way, but that doesn’t mean for one second that other ways are worthless. If an exclusive hat is what it takes to make you donate, that’s no bad thing.

More details on the Japan pack at the TF2 blog and Wiki. You can also donate directly to the Red Cross here.

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56 Comments »

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  1. sigma83 says:

    how do you know they’re not?

  2. sigma83 says:

    Valve donating themselves I mean argh fail

  3. Groove says:

    Has charity ruined TF2? Someone in the comments is bound to think so.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      …and it only took until the very next comment to prove Mr Groove (if that really is your name) correct.

      Thanks for not disappointing us Eproxus!

  4. Eproxus says:

    I applaud doing charitable things, but this game (read: hat collection) has lost it’s appeal to me…

    • Chalky says:

      Because of the hats, or because of something else? I’ve always found it rather perplexing how anyone could get to a point with TF2 and just say “OH MY GOD IT HAS SO MANY HATS IT’S UNBEARABLE!”

      The top 10th of a character model looking slightly different doesn’t actually change the game.

    • Kdansky says:

      I still play TF2, I have about a dozen hats (I don’t actually know exactly, as I don’t care) and bought exactly zero things in the store. Contrary to many other browser games, it actually is completely optional. The basic items are better or at least as good as nearly all extra guns*, and the hats don’t do anything at all.

      *Possible exceptions: Axetinguisher and Wrangler are nearly always better than their defaults, because they have a much higher skill ceiling, and the defaults are not required. You just don’t need a standard melee weapon when you got a flamethrower. But for a beginner, both items are very hard to use anyway, and don’t required.

    • Eproxus says:

      Not because of the amount of hats, because hats is all I hear about this game.

      I guess it’s the focus on hats, not the hats themselves.

    • xandertron says:

      The word ‘hats’ has lost all meaning for me now.
      Hats. Hats.
      Hats?

    • Ondrej says:

      Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich?

    • ix says:

      I suspect there are many reasons to dislike TF2 hats. But them and the whole crafting thing is what put me off a bit. It used to be a simple-ish game that I could grok after 20 hours of play or so. Now there’s all this stuff going on that I don’t get, there’s weapons being used I’ve never seen and everybody looks like they’re dressing up for some sort of carnival. I feel like the more stuff they added to it, the less accessible it has become.

      I guess it’s the paradox of choice. The more choice you give me, the more I have to be into the game to actually appreciate it. Otherwise it just seems confusing and overwhelming.

    • 3lbFlax says:

      There’s nothing to get, really. Hats are ornamental, alternate weapons will gain a feature at the expense of another feature (higher chance of critical hits but less damage and so on). So you can stick with the default items and not be at a disadvantage… different weapons are really a chance to bend the game to your playing style. There was talk in the Valve interview RPS linked to the other day of adding the option to disable hats at the client level, in fact (as there’d be no effect on the gameplay). But I like them, they add to the general mayhem.

    • ix says:

      One other thing it does is divide the community into the haves and have nots.
      You’ll say just ignore it, but that’s not how humans work. I see someone with a shiny, I want it. And then I find out there’s 5 million shinies and some of them require hours and hours of crafting, others require me spending money in the story and I’ve already played this game for 100+ hours and why am I bothering again?
      And new weapons do make a difference BTW. Once you know what weaknesses a weapon introduces, you can take advantage of it. But you have to know. Hence why the “so-and-so is using…” popups are so useful.

      EDIT: (And BTW, I’m not trying to convince anyone TF2 is a lousy game or you shouldn’t play or whatever. I just see a lot of people mystified about why some have lost interest and what that has to do with the hats and am just trying to put it in words and explain. Explanations always come after the fact, of course.)

    • Orvidos says:

      I’m still of the likely offensive opinion that, if the sort of collection meta-game of TF2 is the reason you’ve stopped playing a fantastic game that you used to (or still!) enjoy, you’re an elitist prick.

      I get what you’re saying Ix, but as Kdansky says, you don’t have to have any interaction with that function of TF2. You don’t have to spend a dime, you don’t ever have to open your inventory, to enjoy the game as it comes out of the ‘box’. There’s no good reason (in my mind) to be pissed off at a game for trying something new.

      Saying “Another TF2 hat promo? I hate (stairs) this game!” is like saying “Oh, I get a cookie with my 5 dollar sandwich? I hate this sandwich!” (A small disparity in comparison, I admit, but if you’re going to buy the other game anyway, viola, free stuff. If not, ignore it.)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      That’s like, your opinion man.

      I think it’s fairly reasonable for someone’s interest in a particular product to reduce when the “focus” of its fanbase/promotional material seem to heavily revolve around something which is arguably damaging to the visual art-style of the game, and theoretically a specific act of monetising the system…

      I think people find it offputting that the majority of the conversation isn’t more about actual gameplay, new features, etc.

      Similarly, the same “focus on romance-options/DLC” makes Bioware games particularly offputting for some people. Sure, it’s optional… but why isn’t anyone, including the producing company, talking about anything else?

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      I’m still of the likely offensive opinion that, if the sort of collection meta-game of TF2 is the reason you’ve stopped playing a fantastic game that you used to (or still!) enjoy, you’re an elitist prick.

      Couldn’t agree more. Enjoy CODBLOPS or whichever other generic console angry manshoot game you’re off to play instead & don’t let the door smack you on the arse on the way out. I hear £11 is quite reasonable for 5 maps (4 of which are updates of old ones).

      I think people find it offputting that the majority of the conversation isn’t more about actual gameplay, new features, etc.

      And whose fault is that? RPS certainly post about new maps & stuff being added to TF2 but as the last post of that ilk shows the commentors here inevitably jump on the “OMG AN OPTIONAL ITEM STORE HAS RUINED THIS GAME FOR ME AND VALVE ARE THE MOST EVIL PEOPLE ON THE PLANET” bandwagon.

      Personally I’ve never spent anything more on TF2 than the original cash I stumped up for the Orange Box back in 2007 & yet I’ve got between 20 & 30 hats either from random drops during playing or from crafting all the spare weapons from random drops which would otherwise clutter my backpack. That’s not counting the “free” hats like the Cheaters Lament, the Halloween Event ones, Treasure Hat etc. The only items I’ve had from owning another game is the Ellis cap & Frying pan for owning L4D2 which they gave out long after L4D2 had been out & the Alien Swarm parasite which you get for completing 2 maps in a free ( and also very good) game.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      “And whose fault is that?”

      I think it’s obviously parts of the “fanbase”… the part that generally gets too excited about stuff (whether hats in TF2 or My Little Pony fetishists or whatever.

      For TF2, it’s the people who will be playing the game, that you’re playing, and possibly even playing with/against if you’re a social sort of person who likes to play against random people you don’t already know in the real-world.

      At some point it can become a vicious cycle, where those (self-proclaimed?) “hardcore” fans represent the most vocal and in turn represent a stereotype of the whole fanbase, which in turn can risk the company focusing products to maintain this “appeal”, which pushes out “casual” players (i.e. those who might be playing for fun rather than “obsession”)

      A bit like trying to talk about room lighting while 100 fat men dressed like sailor moon shout and head-butt each other.

    • D3xter says:

      I can’t talk about others, but I personally stopped playing or caring about this game around the time they introduced their “ManConomy Update”… it was a fun Shooter to jump in and play for a few minutes maybe a few hours before then like say Counter Strike: Source or Left4Dead, but with that Update and the focus on their Metagame it kind of changed to a “Who has the most items”/”Item-Collection” kind of game. You’d see people talking about nothing but their newest loot and trading with each other and what not instead of ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME every damn time and everything that comes out regarding publicity for Team Fortress 2 either has to do with new hats or weapons or whatever… I just couldn’t be arsed anymore…

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      At some point it can become a vicious cycle, where those (self-proclaimed?) “hardcore” fans represent the most vocal and in turn represent a stereotype of the whole fanbase, which in turn can risk the company focusing products to maintain this “appeal”, which pushes out “casual” players (i.e. those who might be playing for fun rather than “obsession”)

      And yet, some what ironically, the majority of the unlock weapons are shunned by the so called “hardcore” to the extent that they’re not whitelisted in league tournament server configurations because of their appeal to the “casual” crowd.

      You’d see people talking about nothing but their newest loot and trading with each other and what not instead of ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME and everything that comes out regarding publicity for Team Fortress 2 either has to do with new hats or weapons or whatever

      If that’s the case then it’s your own fault for playing on servers inhabited by dickheads of that ilk. There’s plenty of servers where that sort of conduct isn’t tolerated.
      Also it’s funny how I linked an RPS thread in my earlier comment which wasn’t about “new hats or weapons” but was about 3 newly added community made maps. You appear to be strangely absent from the comments in that thread D3xter. I find it hilarious that in the thread for Red Eclipse I replied to your comment suggesting you might enjoy TF2. I guess I should’ve taken “RAGE ABOUT COSMETIC ITEMS WHICH DON’T AFFECT THE GAME IN ANY MEANINGFUL WAY” into account.

    • Nick says:

      I can’t believe you are actually insulting people for not enjoying the game anymore, what the hell is wrong with you?

    • skinlo says:

      I can’t believe you are actually insulting people for insulting people. What the hell is wrong with you?

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      “I see someone with a shiny, I want it.”

      Well, that’s your problem. If you see someone in real life with a Ferrari, do you also want to have it? We could just as well forbid all luxury items if we have to think like that.

    • Orvidos says:

      While I see where Dexter and Hoaxfish, I don’t (again, my opinion) buy it. I have a series of three servers that I regularly play TF2 on, where yeah, people do the occasional trading, but it never disrupts gameplay, or has ever caused a loss or a win. Trading is not some sort of mega-evil monopoly on your time. Again, you don’t have to do anything with it. You don’t have to know it exists, if you can exercise the self control to ignore the lines of text that start with “trading”, “does anyone want”, “selling” and so forth.

      As. . .Malibu Stacey said, if you’re on a server that does nothing but spam trade advertisements, go elsewhere. It’s the beauty of dedicated servers and a browser there-in. Hell, I think I’ve even seen servers where trading is prohibited, though I wasn’t looking too closely.

      “The collection aspect makes me hate the game” remains the stupidest reason for quiting a game you enjoy I’ve heard in recent memory.

    • ix says:

      You know I’ve tried to explain why I think I might have lost interest in the game. And you might not agree with me, you can post about why you think those are not good reasons to quit the game. I don’t mind discussing it. But I ask that you at least respect my opinion, instead of just resorting to name calling and distorting my (and others’) points.

      If you’re trying to be an advocate for the TF2 community, then I think you’re failing quite horribly (I’ve played loads of TF2 with much nicer people though, so I know they’re out there).

    • Dominic White says:

      If you’re shallow and petty enough to feel snubbed by a game because other people have shinier hats than you, then that’s not really the games fault, is it? It’s funny to shoot people with silly hats, but I don’t feel any burning need to pay top dollar for them. The occasional one in a random drop is nice, but I’d much rather get new guns, really.

    • Orvidos says:

      I have been a bit harsh on it, and I apologize. I think my issue with it is simply that I find it an, erm, odd way of considering things? I’m normally not an arse, I swear! But again, I do feel like one.

      I just don’t think that, well, it’s a legitimate reason, which basically makes me Airhorn Debate Man, so I’ve failed miserably. I guess it comes down to me being one of the mystified people you mentioned, on why “hats!” makes people not enjoy the game anymore. It’s just a tad off to me. But I can see what you mean, as I frequently look about and go “You know, I have 3 of X item, I have some 400 hours of TF2, why the hell don’t I have any hats!?” So I get that, I guess I just. . .maybe I don’t see the issue. I’ve never bothered with crafting (except that failed spate of attempting for a spy hat), I haven’t spent any money, I just keep playing, and if the game bothers me, I log off.

      Like you said, I’m utterly mystified as why it would bother anyone enough to stop playing, but I was responding more to people who haven’t even spoken up in this thread, and I had no reason to. (e.g. “Woe is me, a new hat, I must stop playing, you money-grubbing Valve whats-its.) Again, sorry. I get a tad overzealous when lacking sleep.

    • D3xter says:

      It’s just the whole mentality of the thing… when I feel like playing a shooter I don’t really want to think about what I want to equip or what I have to do for a certain weapon to drop or get an item set or whatever… I don’t really want to deal with crafting or inventory management either… I have MMOs for that. When I play an FPS I want short, quick fun and the only things I have to think about how I’m going to headshot someone or what to do to get a certain map objective/help my team . I think I only played it for a few hours after that cause it just wasn’t fun anymore and whenever I think about starting it up “meeeeeh…” is the first thing popping up in my mind.
      … and I think Microtransactions in general are sleazy on anything else than F2P games like LoL

    • Dominic White says:

      “It’s just the whole mentality of the thing… when I feel like playing a shooter I don’t really want to think about what I want to equip or what I have to do for a certain weapon to drop or get an item set or whatever…”

      You don’t have to. Stick with all-default weapons, and you’ll do fine, as they’re all good, middle-of-the-road equipment. For every buff that alternate weapons get in one direction, they usually suffer in another.

  5. Death by Toast says:

    Small edit: The Humanitarian’s Hachimaki is $7.49 not $7.99. I only know this because I am seriously debating getting one as my first and only purchase (and I absolutely love this game, even with all the hats). Just want to stress the fact that I have not spent a cent in the store…it truly is completely optional/not necessary or required to play the game.
    /rant

    EDIT: Odd the tf2 blog says $7.99 too (epic misprintage; store lists the price at $7.49)

    • PaulMorel says:

      Yeah. I figure that I’m going to donate to disaster relief anyway, so I might as well get a hat!

      also, re: hats ruining TF2
      I took a year long sabbatical from TF2 after hats became the thing. I think they did alter the game for a bit, but ultimately … TF2 is the Mario Kart of shooters. Either you accept the zaniness and enjoy the community, or go play one of the million serious shooters.

      EDIT: the Hachimaki looks badass on a number of classes, demoman and sniper particularly

  6. SprintJack says:

    I won’t send any money to Japan. According to BBC reports every japanese has in front of their house atleast yacht and several cars.

  7. Mike says:

    It’s not like TF2 needs to market itself to more players…

  8. Premium User Badge

    Hideous says:

    Hats don’t affect the hitboxes, FYI.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Having a paddle on your head does increase visibility though. (Just like a high contrast to the background.)
      I’ve not played TF2, but if you’re able to duck behind anything, this paddle will be your death.

    • Dominic White says:

      If you ever have to duck in TF2, you’re probably going to die anyway. The entire point of that hat is visibility, really – bragging rights that you’ve got the biggest, fanciest hat.

  9. derf says:

    In terms of GDP, Japan is ranked 3rd beneath USA and China.

    Do they need any financial support?

  10. Oneironaut says:

    Blizzard is also doing something for Japan. They have these statues that are normally only given to Blizzard employees, and they’ve got one up for auction on ebay, with all profits going to Japan.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Play-Japan-Blizzard-Warcraft-Orc-Statue-WETA-/330545485351?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf60bd627

  11. Fumarole says:

    Props to Valve for doing this.

  12. hjd_uk says:

    I’ll bite, as its for Char-eeety.

  13. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    I certainly don’t see the problem with this. All the proceeds are going to charity, not a portion as some companies attempt (I _really_ hate promotions where only a portion goes). And I don’t think this will canniblize donations to other sources; rather, it’ll encourage people to donate extra, or indeed some to donate who never would have at all.

    I rarely play TF2 these days, but I reckon I’ll plonk down for a hat.

    P.

  14. Pointless Puppies says:

    I’ll buy something, but I won’t wear the hat. I don’t really like TF2’s hats anyway, and I’d feel like a prick running around and SHOWING everyone I donated money.

    For me it’s like, donate or don’t. Don’t donate and then run around telling everyone you did. And for god’s sake, don’t donate and then run around trying to make people feel bad that they’re not. Those are the worst.

    • Dominic White says:

      If running around with a shiny hat more likely to make other people to donate, then dammit, I’ll wear that hat!

      Or at least, I would if I could afford to donate any more right now. Already given a bit to a couple of charities in this mess, but I’m pretty much flat broke.

  15. haircute says:

    I guess I’ll say it because I can’t control myself: that soldier hat looks stupid. Lord. I would never respect the emperor or the shogun or whomever if he was wearing that shit.

  16. laddyman says:

    I’m going to get the $8 one, methinks.

  17. Robin_G says:

    Its certainly better than selling overpriced virtual hats and not giving the money to charity. Which is what they have been doing up until now.

    I have already donated more directly, but for some reason, contributing to a chunk of money that can be directly traced back to people who play games is appealing to me. Just to show were not anti-social creeps who hide from the real world with our murder simulators, as people might have you believe.

  18. Artist says:

    Quite ironic that its possible to make Japan a public political issue for fundraising while we watch so much others dying from starvation…!
    “They have no bread? Shall they eat hats….”

  19. Nemito says:

    Lol japan don’t need money. Japan is a rich country.
    Just pray for them lolz

    • DeviantMonkeyAV says:

      Wow really? That ignorant are we?

      Japan just had half of their country washed into the fucking ocean!! If that wasn’t bad enough, the monster wave that did it, also crippled 3 of their central nuclear power plants which provide at least half of the electricity for the nation. So not only did they get the ocean dumped on them, but they’re under threat of not one, but 3 Chernobyl sized disasters on top of it which would indeed re-wipe out 3/4 of their country. Rich country my ass, they just got washed back about 100 years in terms of growth and progress.

  20. Trisn says:

    We got the money, and we got the conscience.

  21. DeviantMonkeyAV says:

    I personally don’t see why everyone thinks this is a shitty move on Valve/TF2’s account. You donate to charities and get things to show for it all the time. Donate to breast cancer and you get a ribbon or a little plastic bracelet or a sticker for your car. Donate to the ASPCA and you get a t-shirt or a calendar. WWF gives you a blanket or a stuffed animal. Same with numerous other charitable organizations which I’m not going to spend the time to mention, but you get the idea. They’ve raised over $300,000 to go to some people who litterally just got dumped on (by the ocean) and are under the threat of serious nuclear crisis, and people are bitching that the donators get a little something for it? Please… I think it’s awesome that for whatever motivations people had, either to get a fancy hat or because they actually feel bad for the Japanese or both, they have raised so much money to help out a nation clearly in need. And if you want to go a step futher, it’s a nation that had a huge hand in developing gaming and technology (computers, cell phones, etc.) as we know it. So I say good for TF2, Valve, and all the donators, you guys have accomplished something awesome here!