Team Fortress 2: Why Go Free?

Come to me, my money

Team Fortress 2 has gone free to play, in a typically Valvian rug-from-under-our-feet move. While superficially a bit of a shock (albeit one a few people guessed), at the same time it makes perfect sense. Some four years down the line, ongoing sales of the game were surely pretty minimal, making the only real options to restore Team Fortress’s big money-making potential either to move onto a sequel or larger, paid upgrade packs. Neither of these would have been popular with the fanbase (which isn’t the same as saying the fanbase wouldn’t have bought them, of course. You know you would have).

The other reason for the free-to-playisation, I half suspect, is getting there before someone else did.

We’ve seen various efforts in this field previously, but they’ve tended towards either the casual or the retro. All of a sudden, there’s a properly high-end, high-budget shooter out there for free, which means whoever tries to saunter along with their own offering sometime soon – for instance Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon project or PlanetSide Next – no longer has the open goal they once might have done. Team Fortress 2 already puts most multiplayer shooters to shame: think how fearsome an opponent it must be for anyone planning a free to play one, where budgets and investments aren’t always the equal of their retail peers. Speaking of which – how many people are going to want to go and stump up £30 for something like Brink when they could have TF2 for free? Valve’s game has always cast a tall shadow, and far from being rendered tawdry or being an admission of defeat by the move to play, it’s just gotten taller.

Team Fortress 2 has been a microtransaction game on the quiet for some time, via its hat-centric Mann Store, which I’m sure kept some cash coming in, but the only way to meaningfully make its audience bigger – and thus the potential microtransactors more numerous – would be to remove any price whatsover from it. Even a nominal 99 pennies charge is a turn off to some – it’s the act (or hassle) of paying that keeps some people away from purchases as much as it is stinginess.

The microtransactions are a fly in TF2’s oft-celebrated ointment, of course. I’ve read all too many comments bemoaning TF2’s slow transformation into a item-collection game as well as a team-based shooter, and there’s clearly no way that’s going to change now. The Mann Store seems to have been fairly successful for Valve, so expect a fair few updates to it over the coming months. I’m still faintly amazed that the hats and whatnot have taken off as much as they have, given this remains a game about pretty fixed classes and that you don’t actually get to see your own character as your play. If it’s enough it’s enough, but I wonder if it will need to step up to something larger at some point. So what happens next time a new map is released? Or – and I float this entirely speculatively – a new class?

The smoking gun is a hat

There’s no precedent for this yet, of course, and I absolutely dread the community fallout if it did happen (even though we’ve been given a hell of a lot of free TF2 content over the years). There’s also no sign of it on the horizon: Valve are saying right now that “The entire game can be played without making a purchase. All game modes, classes, and maps are available.” There’s a very good chance, given how good they’ve been to us with TF2 over the years, that will remain the case forever and ever, but I can’t imagine the question of how much they could earn from a map-pack or something hasn’t been at least floated.

Another important point to bear in mind: “Nearly every weapon is available through achievements, drops, or crafting.” It’ll take you a long, long time to get everything, but filling that inventory for free definitely isn’t impossible. As it stands right now, this is one of the least cynical approaches to free to play gaming’s ever seen. Much of this is because TF2’s already made a ton of money, I don’t doubt, but hopefully it’s also a sign that Valve don’t want to impose the worst excesses of microtransactions upon us. I wouldn’t be totally surprised if they were testing the waters for a future release – DotA 2 still makes an awful lot of sense for free-to-play, given its potentially large character and skill roster – so hopefully their relatively gentle approach with TF2 sets a positive precedent. Of course, having the considerable might of Steam makes things a lot easier for them – they can promote new items, DLC or whatever direct to millions of eyes every time you start your PC up. Valve are nicer than most, without a shadow of a doubt – but they sure can afford to be.

So what happens now? Well, I’ll be pretty surprised if TF2 doesn’t become enormous again, for a while at least. There’s probably a whole bunch of people currently experiencing what we all got so excited about back in 2007 (albeit with a little more self-interested collectormania), plus I don’t imagine Valve intend to power down the viral marketing cannon for a while.

And that’s the thing – a game released in 2007 is still headline news, still taking risks, still being a viral advertising hit, still setting precedents and helping define the landscape for the rest of the industry. Whether you still play Team Fortress 2, whether you moved on from it long ago, whether you’re only just getting around to it or whether you hate it from the pit of your soul, I’d seriously question the wisdom of anyone who doesn’t admire it.


  1. The Kins says:

    “So what happens next time a new map is released?”

    Valve have already done something for this when they’ve made community maps official – “Map Stamps” which are basically donations to the level designer that give you a hat effect on that map. I’d imagine that any monetization of maps would be down that line.

    • Keymonk says:

      But you still get to play the maps for free, which is the most important.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well if that weren’t the case hardly any servers would include them in rotation, since it’d kick players out.

    • Clavus says:

      The way Source is build up, it’s not even possible for Valve to ask money for maps, since everyone can make them using the Source SDK’s Hammer editor. Source might be a bit outdated in terms of technology, but it still contains all the modding potential of the old days. Players can host their own servers, which is a big plus over games like Bad Company 2 which can only be rented at third parties for ridiculous prices.

    • Wulf says:

      You know, we should be celebrating that. That’s something we should be throwing our hats up into the air (sorry Valve) about. Source isn’t designed in such a way that it would allow for charging for maps because it’s so open to modding.

      If there’s anything the PC needs right now, more than anything else, it’s some kind of standard for modding and games on the PC, a standard of openness that allows the gamer to do whatever they like with games. I feel like we’re at some kind of turning point right now… with cloud gaming and what have you, where games might turn toward a particularly dark route of ‘if you don’t like how the game plays, or you can’t play it, then stuff you.’

      Modding has been one of the most incredible elements of PC gaming thus far. A standard written up for developers to follow would help with a glorious rebirth of that, perhaps even allow for modders to charge for particularly high-end mods (like The Ball) so there’s more incentive for people who’re working on things like Total Conversions to stick with them until the very end.

      And the funny thing? Valve has a lot of this down. They even have the ability to let people sell at least some of their content and this is one of the reasons I praise them. Hell, if anyone could make a push for some kind of modding standard on the PC, it would be Valve, and perhaps if they teamed up with Bethesda to try and create an open standard, then the best possible things could come of it.

      A standard to make as much of the guts of a game as open as possible insofar as that it doesn’t negatively impact upon the developer/publisher selling the game and future DLC. So everything from menus, to dialogue, to content, to graphics, to sound, to even graphical elements of the engine itself and what-have-you could be redesigned.

      One of the things that keeps me coming back to Bethesda games is the mods. It has one of the most vibrant, thriving modding communities I’ve ever seen, and it still does. I’m watching the development of a number of Bethesda mods in progress as we speak, going from Morrowind to New Vegas (Obsidian, using hte Gamebryo engine). And that’s something I really hope won’t change with Skyrim. I can only hope that Skyrim is as completely open as the Fallouts, Oblivion, and Morrowind were.

      But yeah, Valve does it right too. I just think that we should be making more of a thing of this. And to be honest, I often think that the modding efforts of the Bethesda games go criminally unnoticed anyway, even by the people who talk about mods (ahem, ahem!).

      Really, I long for a time when mods can be glorified and glorious again. But at least Valve are doing things right. As, I hope, Bethesda will continue to.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to help Dagoth-Ur take over Morrowind.

    • Eclipse says:

      @wulf the ball was done using UDK but I agree

  2. gryffinp says:

    Easily the best thing about this whole update is that they updated the description of TF2 on the steam store page with “The world’s #1 war-themed hat simulator! “

    • LionsPhil says:

      Easily the most ridiculous is the price of the Uber bundle in the Mann Co store. Especially without the 59% sale reduction.

      It’s a three figure sum. Or about four whole games.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      And I saw a LOT of people with the new packs. I always do, ever since the Mannconomy update.. So I think on top of those nutters that buy 200 stamps just so they can be #1 supporter, micro transactions will work out tremendously. Especially when it’s not so micro.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nathan says:

      I have to admit that I did buy the first set of map packs. Why not? Steam *forces* me to spend not inconsiderate amounts of money on various sale items throughout the year in games I very rarely play. For the many hundreds of hours of enjoyment I’ve gotten from TF2, I have no issue whatsoever in giving something back to the people that provide that entertainment.

      The items that I’ve purchased from the Mann-co store haven’t been particularly driven by some collecto-mania, but rather just by that: a desire to recompense a developer that I frankly feel I’ve ripped off for the amount of fun I’ve had from a game that was initially just some anonymous addition to Episode 2.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Errr. You mean you donated to the map makers? The maps were free, the stamps were just a way to donate to a map maker whose map you enjoyed…

    • Premium User Badge

      Nathan says:

      I donated to the map makers yes, but my point was a more general one as my reasoning for buying things in the Mann-co store.

  3. Zelius says:

    “Speaking of which – how many people are going to want to go and stump up £30 for something like Brink when they could have TF2 for free? Or even – whisper it- another Call of Duty?”

    To be fair, there are likely a lot people who aren’t drawn to TF2’s cartoony graphics and gameplay, and might prefer something more realistic.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Indeed, I suspect large segments of the adolescent misanthrope market will still find TF2 a bit too “gay” for their tastes.

    • Flappybat says:

      Not sure if it was a joke by Alec but I found the implication that you might only want a single four year old game and that’s it for the genre.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Until Battlefield 3 comes out (pleasebegoodpleasebegood), TF2 is all I want in a manshoot. I tried the demo for Arma 2, and absolutely hated it. It clearly wasn’t for me. Was it too ‘realistic’? I dunno, but it didn’t feel anything near like what Battlefield 2 did, which is what I wanted in a “realistic” manshooter.

    • Richard Beer says:

      Brink has cartoony graphics and gameplay too, not to mention it feels enormously outdated. I was pretty disappointed with it to be honest. I bought it on pre-order expecting it to be amazing (knowing the pedigree of the developers) but that was a mistake. I can’t have put more than a few hours into it before giving up.

      In that sense, Brink isn’t a comparison. But it is a good example of how, with free TF2, bad games will sink without trace, which Brink will unless something extraordinary happens to it in the next patch.

    • Tacroy says:

      The thing is – if the game is good enough, why would you ever need another one? I mean, what exactly could another game offer that TF2 doesn’t have? There’s Brink’s SMART system, perhaps, or maybe Section 8 Prejudice’s neat dropping down from orbit mechanic, or any number of other things – but are they worth the price of a new game on their own?

    • JackShandy says:

      There are of course many different types of shooter for many different tastes, and Team Fortress 2 cannot satisfy them all. Battlefield et. al can still make money without losing much sleep over the fact that TF2’s free.

      Monday Night Combat is fucked, though.

    • Olivaw says:

      Oh man, you’re right.

      Poor Monday Night Combat. I really liked that game.

  4. Mark says:

    Case in point: Brink’s new DLC is out early next month and the update will only be free for two weeks, so I’ve been thinking of making the purchase. However, I’ve been playing a fair bit of TF2 again, and I have to say I’m leaning towards one class-based shooter being enough (other than BC2, which I already have).

  5. sana says:

    All this image recycling makes me pretty sad
    EDIT: Happier now.

  6. pupsikaso says:

    “And that’s the thing – a game released in 2007 is still headline news, still taking risks, still being a viral advertising hit, still setting precedents and helping define the landscape for the rest of the industry”

    I don’t see what’s so special about this? This is how it should be. Games should not be 5-hour throw-aways that they are today. Only thing special about this is that Valve is the only one doing it.

    • Mr_Hands says:

      spe·cial   /ˈspɛʃəl/ [spesh-uhl]
      1. of a distinct or particular kind or character: a special kind of key.
      2. being a particular one; particular, individual, or certain: You’d better call the special number.
      3. pertaining or peculiar to a particular person, thing, instance, etc.; distinctive; unique: the special features of a plan.

      That Valve is the only one doing this is [i]exactly why it’s special. The games industry is, well, an industry. Not some idealistic free state, constantly striving for utopia. It’s serious people making money off entertainment. That Valve has managed to create a corporate image based around the idea that they care about what some ephemeral gaming ideal (and managed to actually deliver on some of those promises while remaining financially viable) just speaks volumes about their ability to read their particular market and respond accordingly without overreaching their budget/expectations.

    • Grygus says:

      If only one company is doing it, and with only some of their games, then it’s pretty special by definition, isn’t it? How is this not special? Your expectations do not dictate reality. Do they? If they do, please expect me a robot manservant. Thanks in advance!

    • gulag says:

      So the thing that is special about it is the special thing you point out?

      Thanks for clearing that up for us.

    • Mo says:

      So you’re saying every game should be updated with new content, for free, four years after being released? I can’t recall a game that’s *ever* done this. Even Blizzard charges for content expansions.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      Thank you Mr. Hands…. that was hilarious! :)

      Thank you Valve, for being awesomesauce and thank you RPS for writing good articles and reminding people of what Valve is providing us!!

  7. mR.Waffles says:

    So, about that Counter-Strike 2? No hats please. Just esport integration to spark a second FPS Revival much like how SC2 revived RTS. That is all.

    • JerreyRough says:

      EDIT: Whoops. Wrong place.

    • Mehall says:

      SC2 revived Starcraft, not RTS games. We don’t have a half dozen excellent choices of what to play for our RTS games, we play SC2.

      FPS wise, CS:S and CS 1.6 are STILL going strong. TF2, BC2, Battlefield2 and ARMA also 2) are all still great options as well.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I’m sure the game itself would be great, but is Counter-Strike 2 REALLY a good idea? CS and CS:S are still the most played FPS on PC by a factor of a trillion. I don’t know how you’d release another one without creating a big, fat schism in the community again. But I’d sure as hell play it either way.

    • chromegnome says:

      Don’t forget quake!

  8. Theoban says:

    I already own TF2, and so do a few other friends, but there’s something in the air. We’re all being brought back to it at the same time. Can you scent that? On the air? The breeze is blowing and it’s blowing in Valve’s direction.

  9. Araxiel says:

    I’m going to stop to buy any multiplayer games. They all turn free. First TF2, than Arma 2, Company of Heroes is on the way, Battlefield 2 just went…what’s next, free2play Killing Floor, Left4Dead and Brink? I’ve got a bad feeling ’bout the latter one.

    Edit: Forgot Hellgate London

    • CMaster says:

      CoH:O got killed before it left beta.
      Battlefield4Free will be cut down compared to Battlefield 2 and a long, long time later.
      TF2 was out for four years.

      I really don’t think you need to let it effect you.

    • chromegnome says:

      Also, age of empires online.

  10. Hardtarget says:

    I’m slightly annoyed that they haven’t done anything for people who paid for the game back in 2007, maybe an exclusive dumb hat or something, just as a sort of token.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      You get a ‘proof of purchase’ hat. Unless you want something for buying it when it came out?

    • Dana says:

      Yes we got a hat.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Also, we got these a while back: link to

    • Mist says:

      Not only do buyers get a hat, but the early buyers already have the grizzled veteran / primeval warrior / etc

      edit: too late -_-

    • Theoban says:

      I have an impenetrable feeling of self satisfaction as a result, does this count?

    • JerreyRough says:

      Wait, so those four years of fun and being able to play TF2 before everyone else wasn’t worth it?

    • The Hammer says:

      Four years of being able to play it before people who didn’t pay for it.

      And four years of regular, game-changing, map-adding updates.

      Hmm. What other multiplayer shooters game out in 2007? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. When did that stop being updated, and when were customers given the chance to “upgrade” to the new one, for 30-40 quid? Oh, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, too! That came out in 2007. People who bought that certainly got their money’s worth. And, er, Medal of Honor: Airborne.


    • Iain_1986 says:


      Can you explain why you should get anything?

      The world is full of products with fluctuating prices, thats how supply and demand works, why should you get “refunded” anything when the price of something goes down? What about all those games people have bough over the years that become Abandonware, or like the recent Elder Scrolls 3 (was it 3, or 2?) being released for free….should everyone who bought it get a present from Bioware?

      I’d say don’t take this the wrong way but…well…people with a ridiculous sense of entitlement towards gaming like yourself, kinda piss me off

    • Hardtarget says:

      well I guess I should have actually read the FAQ before opening my big fat mouth:
      link to
      retail customers get a few things turns out.

      edit – @Iain_1986
      don’t be ridiculous. Of Course Valve was gonna do something for people who bought the game in 2007, it just makes sense which is why I was shocked when I originally thought they hadn’t. Turned out I was wrong and am no longer ‘slightly’ annoyed.

      OH NO! That guy posted he was “SLIGHTLY” annoyed! What a huge sense of entitlement he has! What a ass!!! etc

  11. kwyjibo says:

    If they get the marketing right, this could enable Valve to greatly increase their player base in the Asian market.

    • viverravid says:


      This has just probably messed up the business plan for China’s Final Combat, a F2P microtrans TF2 ripoff.

    • absolofdoom says:

      Holy crap you’re right. I didn’t think about that.

  12. Kdansky says:

    It’s called market segmentation: They sold TF2 to everyone who was interested, then slashed prices, put it on sale more than once, and now it’s free. Why? Because if you were ready to pay for it, by now you would have done so. I bought it four years ago, and I do not regret those bucks one bit.

    They lose 0 dollars from giving it to the rest. But they gain potential hat-customers, potential fan base, potential sequel buyers and on top of that, publicity.

    It’s pure genius.

    • blacketj says:

      Don’t forget about getting all new users that have never bothered to install steam before. This will further increase Steam’s total user base leading to more people buying stuff off Steam.

  13. nootron says:

    I’ve never played it. I’ve always wanted to though. And I own it because I bough the orange box. But I never once logged in. Help me.

    • oceanclub says:

      1. Log into Steam.
      2. View your uninstalled games.
      3. Select Team Fortress 2.–>Install Game

      Guruswami is pleased to help you. Just leave the suggested donation of a 2100 C-Class Mercedes outside my Mayfair hotel.

  14. Monchberter says:

    I still love TF2 and will continue to cherish it because at heart it’s a warm and funny way to go kill many men-in-the-face online, with fantastic balance and production values.

    There always be the sticklers for purity, but that’s as much a personality type as it is a grievance.

    I do expect however at some point a ‘vanilla’ server mode (no hats or wearables) to be released for the more humourless pedants and pro players to switch on – that is should they have paid for the privilege (either by already owning the game ‘pre-free’ or paying a nominal sum for a ‘cleaner looking’ game.

    If there are as it appears huge numbers of people who say they’re not going to buy or care about hats, Valve isn’t going to make any money off them so it’d be in their interest to keep them playing to keep the community vital.

    Not that i’d believe that they’d leave the game anyway or forsake their hat collections.

  15. Vinraith says:

    I hada very nice hundred or so hours with TF2 back in the day, mostly around the Medic and Pyro updates. It was fun, my friends played it too, and it’s just about the only multiplayer adversarial shooter I’ve ever spent that kind of time with. That’ll always be the game I think of as “TF2.”

    That game is, of course, long dead. That’s ok, if it were still around I doubt I’d be playing it anyway, and plenty of people seem to enjoy the game they have now, so who am I to complain? For a freebie that came alongside two enjoyable (if short) single player experiences it was pretty good in its day, I wish it well but I shan’t be going back. Godspeed microtransaction-based war-themed hat-simulator, may you fund the development of something I actually want to play.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Yeah, I kinda wish they’d rerelease the original TF2. I’d play that, definitely. Hell, I might even pay for it again.

      This new monstrosity that the game’s turned into? Not interested.

    • Sigh says:

      I second what Vinraith and Zeewolf have to say here. I discovered TF2 perhaps a bit later…around the 2009 $2.50 Halloween sale and fell in love with it and the new Halloween themed Harvest map (my personal favorite). I then logged a substantial amount of time with it over the following year right up until the Mann Co. store update. Then the game became an abomination…something TF2 used to be a refuge from in other games.

      It is nice to know that so many people still enjoy it and I suppose it is a great thing that so many more individuals will be exposed to it with the free update. I hope the new players can get a glimpse at the beautiful core of a game that still exists under layers and layers of bloat.

      I am glad that I had the pleasure of experiencing a slice of it before the Mann Co. update, but the game has been dead to me since then.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Pyro was soooo useless early on.

      As one of my favorite classes, bah upon ye!

  16. evilbobthebob says:

    “…or larger, paid upgrade packs”

    Funny you should say this, but if you want to actually have all the content from the Uber Update immediately, it costs £60. I know this is entirely optional, but it’s still not exactly cheap. As a player who would prefer access to new weapons for gameplay reasons, making the cost of entry this high is prohibitive to play. I suppose I will be waiting a long time for enough drops.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      How much of that £60 is hats/badges etc though?

      If you really must have the weapons now, how much would that cost?

    • evilbobthebob says:

      Each of the new weapons bar the Scout’s cost £3.49 each. The Scout’s cost £1.99 each. To purchase all 23 weapons included in the update costs ~£75

  17. oceanclub says:

    “I’m slightly annoyed that they haven’t done anything for people who paid for the game back in 2007, maybe an exclusive dumb hat or something, just as a sort of token.”

    We do indeed get a dumb hat.

    link to

    “Q. What do I get if I paid for the game?
    To thank you for your years of support, we will be giving players who have purchased TF2 a special Proof of Purchase hat to wear on any character in-game.”


  18. Johnny Lizard says:

    I played this for an hour last time they had a free weekend and couldn’t work out what the fuss was about. If someone in this thread explains to me what all the fuss is about I will play it again.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      It’s a good game, and highly popular (i.e. it’s not just me saying it’s a good game).

      However, if you’ve played it and didn’t really like it then it’s unlikely anyone can say something that will change your mind. Move on, find something else to play – not everyone will enjoy even the best games.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      It is a means of commiting lighthearted murder in many different styles which compliment eachother when paired or opposed by others!

  19. JerreyRough says:

    I’m glad they chose the brodie helmet as the proof-of-purchase. I’m also glad it’s not just for the soldier (which is what the Meet the Medic trailer implied; one of the soldiers has it in the pile of soldier bodies).

  20. 20thCB says:

    I hate hats of all kinds. Heads and the hair on them should be left free and loose, stroked by gentle summer breezes as you gaze down a sun-clad beach at your lover, bikini-clad and running slowly towards you. This hat-simulator is despicable, sordid, and offensive to all those who value follicular liberty. Ban this sick filth.

    • JerreyRough says:

      But sir! Some hats remove the hats and others change their owner’s hairstyle. What about them!

    • fiddlesticks says:

      You, sir, are a fool. If one were to remove all hats, how shall we distinguish between the common rabble and the bourgeoisie? I, for one, would not want to live in a world where I could accidentally talk to a lesser subject on the street, not immediately knowing of his dubious heritage, represented by his filthy hat.

      Nay, sir, only a world filled with hats is a world of gentlemen. We should thank this so called video game for teaching our children the value of looking down on those less fortunate than us.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      A-ha-ha! You are as PRESUMPTUOUS as you are POOR and IRISH. Tarnish notte the majesty of my TOWER of HATS.

    • Ralphomon says:

      Every true gentleman should have but one hat, and stick with it

  21. Premium User Badge

    PASchaefer says:

    Thanks to the image in this article, I had to go back and watch Dance Fortress. Seven times. Because you can’t possibly take in the whole thing in one go.


  22. Darko Drako says:

    People seem to be forgetting that this is also an excellent way to draw people into using Steam.

    For those still reticent to use the service – the offer of an excellent free game will surely help to change their mind.

  23. airtekh says:

    I love this game, I really do. It very rarely fails to entertain me.

    It’s a game in which I can have a 10 minute blast, or a two hour marathon.

    I only started playing it in December ’09, at the height of the WAR update, and it has gripped me ever since.

    I stayed playing during the controversial Mann-conomy update, and despite all the negativity, I saw bugger all change for the worse. The crates were the only bad thing about that update, but everyone talks about hats instead.

    The hallowe’en 2010 update was some of the best fun I’ve had in a game, ever.

    I own nearly all the weapons (bar the new ones) and have a tidy collection of hats, but I haven’t spent a single cent in the store. All of my items have been obtained through a combination of crafting, trading and random drops.

    I don’t play the game for these things though, I play because it is still an excellent team shooter that has fantastic support from its devs. Long may it continue.

  24. Stevostin says:

    The thing I love with this game is that I bought it day #1 and still mainly use the base weapons. I rarely tried to grab one, and even the few specials I use… well, I wouldn’t really care if I had to cope with the basics. Basics still are the best thing in most of case, or if not, not far from it. They really succeeded in offering interesting alternatives that doesn’t turn into absolut must have.

  25. Gnoupi says:

    Also, it is increasing the fan base for the (hypothetical) day they release a TF3.

    They did something like this for Portal 2, in away, by offering Portal 1 to everyone who claimed it during a weekend. This way, you create more demand from people who wouldn’t have tried it without.

  26. PanzerVaughn says:

    Im just going to stop eating, food keeps going on sale 4 years after ive eaten it.

  27. tenseiga says:

    I watched a man on the train once, he was offering cold water from a bottle for free to everyone on a rather hot day. However no one expected and i observed he would move more water if he sold it. Every is naturally suspicious of things given away for free and i guess thats why people are skeptical of valves offering. Chances are they want to sell you steam, maybe they want to set up a sequel, maybe they want to workt he micro transactions. or maybe Gabe was just feeling like he had more money than he wanted and thought he will give something back to PC gaming.

  28. ScubaMonster says:

    I don’t see how Ghost Recon or Planetside Next would even be competing in the same market as TF2. Planetside Next is going to be an entirely different breed of game.

    • aiusepsi says:

      I would still seriously consider selling my (hypothetical) first-born child to play a (good) Planetside Next. They really, really don’t need to make that Free To Play as far as I’m concerned.

  29. Tsotsi says:

    Might put a bit of a spanner in the works of COD Elite as well, depending on how Activision plan to implement it.

  30. Muhu says:

    I wish there was a way to go back in time and play the old tf2 again. Without the store, without the hats, hell I wouldn’t even care if all the weapons were gone.
    Also I really don’t like the direction valve is heading. It seems like they will include ingame stores with every game they make (I’m 110% sure Dota will have one), and there are few things I hate more than microtransaction.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      Luckily they only make one every 7 years, so you would have to put up with it often. ^_^

      They’ve proved microtransacts are effective, theres no reason to stop. its a system that gives them more money, if you’d like to pay more money. So far theyve made them completely ignorable if you wished, i would think theyre aware of how much rage theyd induce if they implimented one that significantly impeded your ability if you abstained from it.
      So, still probably wont be a big deal.

    • Sigh says:

      I spit milk all over my keyboard when you said “they are completely ignorable”. Nothing about the Mann Co. update and hat trading frenzy is ignorable. Hell when you spawn you have to wade through half a team of players just sitting in the spawn zone trading items. The Mann Co. update and all of its cascading effects are anything but ignorable. Sorry.

    • JerreyRough says:

      Jeez, what kinds of servers do you go on? Common, random servers?

      Only on very rare occasions do I see people trading, especially since many servers (that I go on anyway) have a special in-game trading channel.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Maybe you shouldn’t play on hat trading servers? Then you won’t have people sitting in spawn… trading hats…

    • Sigh says:

      Thanks, DJ I took it one step further and stopped playing all together and my life improved tremendously. Oh, by the way the trading, item drop bullshit was not neatly contained to a few servers.

    • gavintlgold says:

      There are plenty of servers that have AFK kickers and other ways of getting traders off. For instance, my server community has a trading post server we direct any traders too. Our AFK kicker moves anyone idle for over 40 seconds to spectator and kicks them if they remain inactive for a few more minutes and the server is full. As for any remaining traders, if they mess up the game too much our admins just kick ’em with warnings.

      If you have trouble with people trading in the servers you play in you’re not going to the right ones.

    • Sigh says:

      OK, obviously I exaggerated about the hordes of people in spawn areas, but my point is that the microtransactions, trading, hat frenzy, and crafting is ubiquitous. It is omnipresent there is no clean escape from it. There are servers that announce magical item drops hidden in the level every minute. The issue manifests itself in so many ways, and I am not interested in having that metagame invade my FPS experience. I think I am just getting older and probably out of touch with what the kids want these days.

    • Brometheus says:

      Actually, the new matchmaking is nice because it means you have a very small chance of actually having people on the server trading instead of playing. It’s much nicer than that Macified server browser they introduced last year.

    • Sigh says:

      I also think that with TF2 now being free to play the microtransactions nonsense will become even more ubiquitous. The game, as you know it now, will cease to exist and will certainly try to emphasize the only monetized element left in the game. Let’s see where we are in a year.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I wish there was a way to go back in time and play the old tf2 again. Without the store, without the hats, hell I wouldn’t even care if all the weapons were gone.

      VALVe granted your wish years ago when they added the whitelist.txt but that would involve setting up a server & actually doing something instead of wishing upon unicorn tears for someone else to do everything for you like most gamers do.

      Also “Sigh”, your username couldn’t be more appropriate. I suggest you find Vinraith & make sweet music together as you’re practically the same person.

  31. Robin_G says:

    Looking back, I actually would have preferred a once off “expansion pack” payment for a bundle of new maps and weapons. I know you can just ignore the store, but the presence of crates and keys and that sort of thing just feels tacky.

  32. wcaypahwat says:

    Well I don’t know about you guys, but I got TF2 for free years ago, back when I purchased Ep.2.

    Those money grubbing bastards!

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Same. I bought a box (digitally through Steam) which contained Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, some random unknown game called Portal, Team Fortress 2 & a spare copy of Half-Life 2 which I gifted to my best friend (he enjoyed it thoroughly if you’re wondering).
      I feel like VALVe have personally ripped me off by giving away a game for free almost 4 years after I received it amongst 4 other high quality games.
      Please ignore the 1600+ hours my Steam account says I’ve played of this game. Actually, if anything, those 1600+ hours spread across the years since September 2007 make this even worse. The fact that it’s now the highest played game on Steam, just shy of 100K simultaneous players really grinds my gears.

  33. Carra says:

    It might be a way to get more people to try out these man shoot games. Which might end up buying BF2 or the CoD games.

    As for the game itself? It’s even better than 4 yours. Tons more weapons and great, new maps make it completely different from its launch date. And I still get it out to play for a few days every time an update happens.

  34. TreeBeard says:

    @Alec “I’m still faintly amazed that the hats and whatnot have taken off as much as they have, given this remains a game about pretty fixed classes and that you don’t actually get to see your own character as your play.”

    Sure, the hats are purely cosmetic, but I think you’re underestimating how often the player sees himself in TF2 – Every time you lose a round, you’ll see yourself in third person. Every time you taunt, too. Plus there’s the satisfaction in knowing other people can see you looking like a loon, and you get to see them too. As for the items and weapons, they generally do a great job of shaking up the standard mechanics of the class you’re playing.

  35. weizur says:

    Best Hat Simulator Ever!

  36. Alaric says:

    I don’t know what you all are talking about. I have TF2, because it was a part of the Orange Box, but frankly I cannot understand why people would play it – free or not. So far as multiplayer shooters go just about anything else is better. Personally I’d much rather play the original Unreal Tournament or MW2, or something.

    I’ll get killed now, won’t I?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Or Modern Warfare 2? You would, if you weren’t such an incredibly obvious troll.

    • Thants says:

      You might get less killed if you elaborated on why you dislike the game so much.

    • Alaric says:

      @Thants, I am not certain why exactly I dislike it. I know that in principle I like the genre. I started off with the original Doom deathmatch, it was neat, but I wasn’t heavily into it. UT, however, I used to play a whole lot. Not a fan of the most recent installment, but the original was a great game in my opinion. Quake III was another fun one.

      I was never into Tribes, however, nor Counter Strike. Maybe it’s because I don’t like class-based shooters? No actually, because I do like MW, and MW2. (I do of course resent the fact that there was none of the traditional PC features in it, such as servers, mods, et cetera, but I do like the gameplay. Still play it occasionally.) Right now I’m waiting for Battlefield 3, although I haven’t bought other battlefield games before. I might have played a demo of either B2, or B2BC.

      Not sure what it is about TF2 though. It’s just not fun to me. After my original post I decided to give it another go, re-downloaded it and after a few games deleted it again. I’m not saying it isn’t well made or anything like that. I just think it’s a terrible game because I am not having fun playing it.

      I’ll ponder this some more, it’s an interesting question.

  37. man-eater chimp says:

    I remember when hats were new and only for the lucky few who got the drop….

  38. Lambchops says:

    Speaking as someone who has never and will never play Team Fortress 2 I can only see this as a good move by Valve.

    Making something free is good publicity. Making something free that is so ubiqutous that even people who have never and will never play it (ie me) already has a copy and could easily have got a copy for next to nothing if I’d been remotely interested and didn’t have it means that there is absolutely no penalty to this free publicity.

    Will it get more people playing the game and paying for the microtransaction nonsense. Propably not. Put for the loss of next to no money Valve can further improve upon its already wonderful reputation by acting all magnaminous.

    It really is a no brainer for them.

    I’m still not playing it though and shall insert a grumble about episode 3 here, like the hardened single player gamer that I am!

  39. Tams80 says:

    Gah! Just the though of buying TF2 annoys be immensely. Due to my own stupidity I bought it for £7 on sale, and then found the Orange Box for under £10 on Amazon!!! *rages* I still kick myself to this day. Not that it wasn’t worth every penny; it was. I’m also glad the player base will increase. The more people who get to enjoy TF2, the better.

    Plus we get a hat. What more could you want?!

  40. wazups2x says:

    My problem with TF2 isn’t the hats, my problem is being able to purchase weapons.

    Hats don’t effect gameplay, weapons do.

    • Sassenach says:

      It’s a valid point, but I feel in practice that there aren’t any colossal imbalances. Weapon choice tends to just influence the way you play rather then how well you do.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      The only way the weapons affect gameplay is that when you’re wielding them & I have defaults, in the majority of cases you’re going to die faster.

      Most of them are so situational that you’d have to spend the whole map trying so hard to create the situation just to get an advantage from using them. While an identical player using defaults is tearing around the map actually having fun.

  41. wererogue says:

    I love, love, love the gameplay of TF2, and hate, hate, hate the manly-men-men men-only aesthetic that they keep heaping onto it. It’s bad enough that there are no playable women, but the constant ‘your mom’ jokes, the soldier’s machismo and the mannco store feel more than a little hostile towards women.

    To be fair, the vast majority of the jokes are funny, with the men of the game as the butt of the jokes, but there’s just no content aimed at women, and that puts me ill at ease.

    • Very Real Talker says:

      can you tell me why you care so much about content not specifically aimed at women? Not considering that there are a lot of women who like tf2 and who evidently do not despair at the lack of content specifically designed for women, why the hell do you care if a game is made for men first?
      Do you whine about barbie not having content designed specifically for men?
      I can’t believe you even feel “ill at ease” because you are playing a game for men. There are no words for that.
      Nowadays women are doctors, scientists, they lead nations, they have the majority of political power, they still benefit from affirmative action even when they have no disadvantage at all compared to their male peers. So instead of being a weepy bitch because a game about soldiers doesn’t feature women (HOW STRANGE) why don’t you harden the fuck up a little

    • Sigh says:

      Wow Very_Real_Talker, issues.

    • wererogue says:

      Yeah, issues indeed. “Harden the fuck up”? Really? Because real men are hard, and women are soft and weak?

      I rather think that I am being “hard” by caring and expressing a feminist voice in a forum (the gaming community, not you lovely RPSers specifically) that still has a fairly strong misogynist core. Case in point; what do you care if they make women-targeted content for TF2? Would it somehow spoil your game to have the taint of femininity on it?

      In a game that is designed (gameplay-wise) to benefit from a rich community, I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect it to actively appeal to as broad a section of the gaming population as possible. And yes, you’re right – plenty of women do play and enjoy tf2 – which is a great reason that they should make some content to reward that segment of their demographic.

      Your barbie example is a poor one. There are a diverse range of kick-ass “action figures” for boys, whereas the vast majority of girls’ toys are aimed at homemaking, babies or looking pretty. Likewise, there are a diverse range of team shooters for boys, and basically none for girls. As TF2 is the best of the best, I’d like it to be “for everyone”.

      This isn’t a game about soldiers – the fiction is about comedy mercenaries, one of whom is an ex-soldier. There’s no reason to not design a diverse cast.

      Anyone who thinks that women aren’t still disadvantaged in the modern world is wearing blinders. Great strides have been made, but there’s still a pretty massive gulf.

    • Thants says:

      Are you kidding? Manly-men-men men-only aesthetic? It’s a goofy, cartoony joke! TF2 is about the last game you should complain about being macho.
      Anyway, wanting female characters is one thing, but who says it isn’t for women? There’s lots of content for women, the same content as for men.

    • wererogue says:

      It is a big goofy joke, and as I said before, by and large it’s funny. But it’s still a setting where the only players (at the game level) are men (in fact, to my recollection, there have only *ever* been two women in the TF2 canonical setting – the announcer/owner, who is not exactly a character designed for the audience to empathize with, and an apple-store clerk who the scout hit on. I may be forgetting some off-screen, photo-only wives/daughters?)
      I think my “men-only aesthetic” comment was justified, and I stand by my understanding that the messaging of the game targets men at the exclusion of women.

    • Zwebbie says:

      @wererogue: this may sound like a contradiction, but I think having an all-male cast is the closest you can get to gender neutrality without resorting to making everyone into Pyros. The game doesn’t draw attention to sex or gender, and it doesn’t open up room for small scale discussion. And you know the Internet; If half the classes were male and half were female, some players would refuse to play class X or Y because of the sex. If you could freely choose the sex of you player character, a whole can of harassment worms would open up. Yeah, we’re stuck to playing men, but we all are. I think that to most men, things tend to be gender neutral when they don’t contain value judgments, but that’s just my experience (and opinion?).

      In addition, men have hard and rugged features and are way more easily stylised. ChemicalAlia made three female models for TF2, and while they’re very well crafted, they’re nowhere near as characteristic as the originals are.

    • wererogue says:

      @Zwebbie I completely disagree with you on how characteristic ChemicalAlia’s models are, especially considering that she made them in her free time, and limited herself to the hitboxes, rigs and animations designed for the male characters.

      I think your first point is a contradiction, yes. I don’t think you can say that they’re “not drawing attention to gender” the same way that Jim Sterling would like it if all gay characters didn’t draw attention to their sexuality, because their sex is clearly defined and does make up a large part of the ethos of the game. In fact, my original point was that the TF2 messaging makes a huge deal about “men shoot other men” (to the extent that almost every journalist now calls these games “manshoots”), over and above other shooters. It’s part of the joke, yes, but it’s also an accurate description of the game.

      If “people” would refuse to play some classes because of the sex (if there were women), I don’t think it’s that outlandish to think that there are currently people refusing to play the classes that exist because there *aren’t* women. For TF2, these players are not only not served, but they’re actively told “we’re not for you”.

    • Very Real Talker says:

      wererogue, who says a game must be for everyone?

      If women want a game for them, they can do it- they are not as incapable as you portray them to be. What’s wrong in doing a game for men and women who like stuff for men? IF women are playing these games, they must be liking it as it is.

      Also I am sorry but male characters are generally more awesome and iconic than female ones. And I think female characters should be more woman like and not man warriors with breasts as you want them to be

  42. My2CENTS says:

    There’s only one reason. The Japan Charity event proved that virtual items are way more profitable (since there is actually $0 investment) than buying retail game. Valve realized that the “buying” part of the game is the barrier that stops the flow of money to their Mann. Co store. They raised the barrier and now the “addictive” trading will make a lot more money, than relaying on purchases alone.

  43. Very Real Talker says:

    Quote:”I rather think that I am being “hard” by caring and expressing a feminist voice in a forum (the gaming community, not you lovely RPSers specifically) that still has a fairly strong misogynist core. Case in point; what do you care if they make women-targeted content for TF2? Would it somehow
    spoil your game to have the taint of femininity on it?”
    end quote.

    With all the shit they put into the game, women content is not going to make any difference for me at this point. I don’t think female characters would be as charismatic and iconic as the original cast, though.

    Now you answer me? Assume the game remain predominantly male. What do you care? Do you seriously think women are not going to enjoy the game if it stays the same? And if games are made from men to men, why must we include them in? Can’t women design their own games for women?

    You are the sexist one, because you assume women are too inept to voice their need for a more diverse cast (Never heard a woman demanding female characters in tf2, it’s a predominantly male thing) so you need to, and because you assume women are too inept to make videogames for themselves.

    “Your barbie example is a poor one. There are a diverse range of kick-ass “action figures” for boys, whereas the vast majority of girls’ toys are aimed at homemaking, babies or looking pretty. Likewise, there are a diverse range of team shooters for boys, and basically none for girls. As TF2 is the best of the best, I’d like it to be “for everyone””

    have you ever considered that -shock- men and women could be different? Do you think businesses want to oppress women? No, they don’t give a shit, they just want to make a profit. If toys for girls are about looking pretty, it’s because that’s what girls want. And women who are interested in team shooters, are already playing them as they are, and they probably like how these games look, without the need to denature them by making them more “inclusive”.

    And like zwebbie says, the original cast looks iconic as it is. It wouldn’t be the same with female characters in the same role. Female characters in tf2 makes sense only as the support cast.

  44. Chunga says:

    The only reason I can think of is getting more people locked in on Steam (no, it’s not free if it is on Steam).

    • Bungle says:

      I was resentful of Steam when I bought HL2 back in 2005, but I love it now. Even if they gave me the option to uninstall it, I wouldn’t consider doing it.

  45. roman2 says:

    Minor sidenote: TF2 has beaten CS as the most played game on steam (at least, for now) by even 150% (peak). I don’t think it will stay this way, but it’s a good indicator about how much impact the free2play release had.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      What’s even better is that the COD:MW2 & even COD:BLOPS numbers are dropping like a stone (both Steamworks titles so all players are listed in the stats as per VALVe’s titles). Ironic that a free game is tearing players away from games which still sell for £30 or £40 & charge £11 for 5 map DLC’s. Hopefully some of them will stay beyond the initial few weeks.

      I really wish VALVe would just turn the master server tracker for HL1 engine games off. Why are people still playing CS 1.6 when CS:S has been around for almost SEVEN YEARS?