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Team Fortress 2 now free forever (teamfortress.com)
423 points by cookiecaper on June 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 161 comments

If you care about gaming in any way, you owe it to yourself to give TF2 a try. It's quite complex, with intricate levels and lots of weapons, but it's easy to learn and you don't need to have every concept fully understood before you dive in.

I've also been surprised by the community that surrounds TF2. People are usually pretty nice about answering questions over chat, as opposed to Xbox Live where all communication comes in the form of racial slurs.

> I've also been surprised by the community that surrounds TF2. People are usually pretty nice about answering questions over chat, as opposed to Xbox Live where all communication comes in the form of racial slurs.

I think this is a byproduct of the demographic differences between console gaming and PC gaming. Console gamers tend to be younger (and thus less mature) than PC gamers because consoles are cheaper (the parents are paying) and more locked down (parents again).

The graphic style also turns away the typical tough-guy attitude that seems to pervade most FPSs.

It depends on the game, play competitive counterstrike and everyone is a dick (source or 1.6)

That makes sense - unlike TF2, you can pirate CS and your computer's specs don't need to be that great to play it. So even children can easily get a copy of CS and a computer to play it with.

I'm hoping that the fact that TF2 is free now isn't enough to cause a large enough demographic shift to ruin the online multiplayer experience.

Could you easily pirate CS? From what I remember when you connected to a server it would authenticate a CD key with Valve, and while I'm sure there were servers that had that disabled it was easy to avoid playing on those. Likewise, there were no doubt pools of stolen CD keys, but that was probably pretty hit or miss for those using them.

It also wasn't too hard to find servers with good a "culture" where there were so many well behaved regulars it didn't really matter.

You can't really pirate cs anymore than you can pirate tf2, css also runs on the same engine as tf2 so any of the kids that can get their hands on source can get their hands on tf2 computerwise.

I think that just like with TF2, it depends broadly on what server and community you happen to be in. I've seen incredibly welcoming communities in both games.

Ehhh... There are a lot of dicks in PC pub servers too..

Try playing Heroes of Newerth.

Also you should give it a decent go before you make up your mind.

I got TF2 for free years ago with a motherboard, and I had never played an online game before. After playing for an hour or so, I decided I didn't like it, and that was that. Then a group of people started playing it at lunch at work, so I figured I would join in and that was the end of my free time...

My name is MetallicCloud, and I'm a TF2 addict.

Damn that peer pressure.

TF2 on 360 actually had a remarkably good community, at least for a year or year and a half until many people moved over to PC as that version started evolving significantly. The nature of the community was especially pronounced since it was released at about the same time as Halo 3, which was the hypocenter of bad behavior on xbox live.

Agree about Xbox live. I cannot play with the general public on there any longer. We've got a pretty nice crew over at http://www.adultgamingenthusiasts.com/. Mostly console gamers and the only rule is 'don't be a dick'.

Another fine group of people to play with: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com

You’ll find your fair share for bad apples in TF2 after a while, especially with how “possessive” server admins of Source-powered games tend to be.

Check the official TF2 forums and you’ll see reports of admins relentlessly banning F2P players or regular players starting landslide votekicks towards them—though this will subside after a while, same thing happened to people who bought the first items in the Mann Co. Store and those that wore the halo lament hat.

I wonder if TF2's whimsical, light-hearted style crossed with semi-complex gameplay (for a multiplayer FPS) led to this.

Even in L4D2 or CS, other Valve games the community is brutal. TF2 seems to be a bunch of people who do it for the "ggs"

I've been saying for years that US gamers have been voting for the Korean/Chinese economic model: free clients and paid content locked down on company-owned servers. Hug your local pirate; you won't be able to buy any major PC games in ten years because the notion of selling games will be quaint.

And yet the US game producers keep insisting on ridiculous (and easily crackable) anti-piracy measures.

We're also just going to have to get over the desire to charge somebody $40-50 for a game that costs them $20/mo too. That just reeks of greediness.

Valve is really starting to catch on to this idea, even without the Korean/Chinese model, they've always innovated in terms of game distribution.

I've heard people say that the Steam model - easier than piracy, lots of games, well-implemented DRM, not too expensive - works pretty well. Am I wrong?

I can only speak for myself, but quite often, steam is less of a hassle than finding a full version of a game (or other means to implement this). Combining that with steam sales or the usually low prices of steam has resulted in game sales over piracy for me already, and I'm just a poor student currently.

I haven't used Steam, but I am becoming a fan of the relatively new Gamersgate (http://www.gamersgate.com/).

It doesn't even require a desktop client, which is one of the few complaints I've heard about Steam.

However, none of the games I've purchased there use DRM at all, so I don't know for sure how DRM games work with it.

100% spot on. Steam is totally awesome. I find your reference to steam _model_ disconcerting though. If more companies try to copy it & we've got a distribution for each publisher then its back to square one. Actually make that square -1.

That's an easy one to solve...don't buy it unless it's on Steam. (though if Mass Effect 3 isn't on steam....)

With the free to play games on Steam, the two models converge. The advantage for the publishers is, apart from access to the large store window and access to the Steam tools and network for distribution and upgrading, that the micro-transactions become hassle free for the customers, as they all use the same shared Steam Wallet. The advantages for Valve is obviously that they can take a processing fee for the transactions.

It does work pretty well, but for new, big publisher games, "not too expensive" is simply not true. Buying the disc version on Amazon is usually 30-50% cheaper. I've bought indie games on Steam, though.

It is excellent indeed, for games where the developer/publisher isn't willing to publish DRM-free.

I generally go for GoG first, Steam second, then stop. I've quit bothering with physical copies a long time ago.

It's still around, and hasn't shut down, so that tells you they are doing something right.

But I dislike that this economic model is advocating "addictive" game designs (and the addiction sooner or later is just becoming grinding). An MMORPG or online shooter is never finished, it is aiming for renewing the subscription every months.

I myself am more an old-school gamer and find it satisfying to play a game from intro to outro.

While I do agree that the freemium model will be very popular in the upcoming years, games with very competitive multiplayer, where balance and equal competition are a necessity will still have the traditional model we see today.

Unless of course they make those games free with a monthly subscription to play online.

That's how Blizzard's doing Starcraft 2 in China.

Wouldn't you say TF2 was that kind of game?

Even thought it is free now, it's been sold the traditional way for a long time so I don't think it quite counts as a freemium game. Valve's already reaped most of the sales profits it's going to get from TF2.

Except for the TF2 in-game store. Valve does a pretty brisk business in hats, weapons and gadgets, so much business that they're able to offer new content regularly for a four-year old game.

TF2 is not anywhere as competitive as StarCraft 2. There's no ladder, no ranking, no matchmaking..

Not true. League of Legends is competitive, popular, and free to play. The developer, Riot Games, recently sold for $400 million. They just hosted their first major tournament which had over 200,000 concurrent users streaming the final match.

or the games of late have been without substance. TF2 was the last game I bought... until Minecraft, that is.

I am not sure if games lately are without substance, or whether they simply are not innovative. Certainly I look at a game and think, "Oh yeah, this is a clone of X, modulo plot, setting, and graphics".

Except for Minecraft. Which, of course, I've wasted good hacking hours on.

Teaching Digital Design to kids via Minecraft might be fun, I was thinking. You really have to think about the physicality of chip designs in a way that VHDL and other HDLs hide from you.

That is a good idea. I heard once that the younger generations of fighter pilots--those that grew up with flight simulator video games--made better pilots than when their elder counterparts were starting out. It would truly be awesome if kids playing Minecraft grow up to be better electrical engineers like the pilots.

I'll take that bet.

On this day in 2021, not only will there be major games on sale, but at least one of them will be in either the Starcraft, Worldcraft or Diablo franchises. While WOW might be completely subscription based, I reject outright the idea that I won't be able to go into a store, pick up a copy of SCIII (or SCIV) and quaintly zerg rush my fellow HNers.

Edit: On second thought, I'm not so sure about the popularity/utility of HN 10 years out. 10 years ago, I was on slashdot.

For the record, TF2 runs excellently on WINE and that's how I play it. Don't let the non-Linuxness of the game put you off.

Aw crap, there goes my weekend! I won't even have to boot Windows to try it.

Steam runs, but I can't seem to get TF2 to work on Wine.

What's the issue? Console log + any records of errors please. You can bring this up on the appdb comments page for TF2, where I am a moderator.

Uhoh. This will not be good for my productivity...

How do you install it in Linux? Is there Steam for Linux that binds things up in WINE?

The Windows Steam client works fine in the current version of WINE.

To install Steam on Linux:

    1) Download the Windows installer from http://store.steampowered.com/about/

    2) Open up a terminal and run `wine msiexec /i /path/to/SteamInstall.msi`

    3) Install Steam as you would in Windows

TF2 is an extremely fun game. Looks like there's a Hacker News group on Steam with a few members..


I have played TF2 for several years now and I haven't gotten sick of it. I think TF2 is really the only game that I can say that about. The mechanics are extremely solid and Valve is constantly pumping new content to shake things up and keep people interested. TF2 should be the textbook example of doing a commercial multiplayer game right. The one caveat may be Steam DRM, but as far the actual game goes, it is head and shoulders above everything else in its field and should become the model for its genre.

I've been playing TF2 since beta and I'm still learning how to play! It's a very easy game to get into but it's also a very deep and rich game that rewards continued learning. There are also many, many different styles of play.

Thanks for linking to that. I had no idea it existed. Judging from the group size, not many others did either.

just joined it

I'm curious if they're planning to fund the sever maintenance cost simply by selling hats.

I knew that microtransactions were a viable money maker, but not to this extent.

Valve doesn't need to provide server infrastructure, individuals do that. They only provide the front-end for server searches. The only thing they need to continue to fund is ongoing development.

Also, yes, they can fund continued development solely on the hat-conomy, as crazy as that sounds.

Actually, it would seem valve has actually started hosting vanilla servers, which is great for new players.

I think what the OP meant was paying for their content distribution servers, not game servers.

That infrastructure is amortized over all steam titles though, so effectively very tiny for TF2.

freemium is huge. It's why there's been so much movement in that direction.

Anecdotally, I'd heard a tale that one iOS developer thought "what the heck" and added a seemingly absurd $40 in-app tier purchase option, and it turned out to be their biggest money maker.

Also for reference: http://appshopper.com/bestsellers/gros/?device=iphone

Six out of the Top 10 Grossing iPhone apps are Free to download and rely on in app purchases. Those freemium apps are outearning practically all the paid apps in the app store.

It makes a lot of sense in the app store, simply because there's no way to 'try before you buy' otherwise. The basic store page gives relatively little information about how the app runs and behaves.

It helps greatly that there's zero cost for the publisher to have their game run by another user, unlike web apps.

At least here in Australia, all the servers are hosted by third parties such as ISPs. Valve only needs to authenticate users.

It's probably a combination of loss-leader, declining server load, and impending TF3 or equivalent.

That is to say, the server maintenance costs have been dropping, are soon to be dominated by another product, and they are willing to take a hit in the interests of their greater business.

They've also certainly made plenty of money from TF2 already, perhaps enough to support the servers for the projected life of the game.

I doubt it will be TF3 since there is really no need to do a major restructuring for TF2. It is excellent and very well balanced the way it is. The only thing I can think of that anyone would even want from TF3 would be a different graphical or techincal approach, which would have only limited interest.

However, I also get an instinct that part of the motivation behind this will be a major new release from Valve, but maybe not. Maybe they are taking TF2 freemium because sales have declined anyway, it will allow greater microtransaction opportunity, and provide a broader userbase for Steam and the advertisements it displays on each boot.

I agree with cookiecaper. I don't see Valve doing TF3 for some time. Whenever it does happen (and I think it will eventually) it will only be with large fundamental changes that the TF2 tech can't handle on reasonable machines. Valve has become genius in their new approach of "games as service" imo.

I think we'll see them going GOIP (Gaming Over IP, that's right, I just coined that. And what?) by the end of next year, too.

What's Gaming over IP? What are we gaming over now?


Your TV+microconsole (or your computer) becomes a gaming thin client. The game runs in the cloud, and only the sound, display, and controller actions are transmitted between the thin client and gaming server. i.e. the Netflix model

I got the microconsole for $50 with a free game, and I must say, it works surprisingly well.

Hmm, does that work? It sounds like it will cost a shitload for them to do the rendering on the server, plus a second shitload in bandwidth costs, plus the latency will be high...

I've been predicting for years that it wouldn't work. And then OnLive finally launched, and... well, it's a teensy bit laggy compared to PC/console gaming, but it's amazing nonetheless. For people who have been wanting to game but never got over the hurdle of the console prices, much less building a PC rig for gaming, OnLive is a godsend.

The latency depends on the game you're playing. The better the video feed compresses, the more responsive the game will feel. It's works OK for 2D games and Batman:AA, but it's still not great for things like Unreal Tournament.

It's worth trying if you're skeptical. It's free to sign up and it allows you to play the first 30 minutes of several games free of charge.

Unfortunately I don't live in the US :(

They have UK servers if that's where you are.


I signed up for the US trial, it was a bit slow but it was quite bearable. The game stopped responding, but overall it looks very good. I'm not sure how they can make money if they have to rent, say, an Amazon EC2 instance with a GPU at $3/hr, but I hope it works.

My main problem is that you actually have to buy the games and then not even own them. I've already bought them once on Steam, why do I have to buy them again to play there? A Netflix-style model of per-month payments for unlimited time would be better, but having to buy the games again is a joke.

In interviews they've claimed that much of the lag players experience is from poor monitors. I don't know if I buy their claim of how much (I want to say the claim was "most", but I'd check that before I would argue it,) but I can certainly buy that as a contributing factor.

I agree with you though, having to buy games I've already bought once is annoying. But unless storefronts/publishers all agree to hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and honor each other's purchases, I don't see another option.

The other option is a flat fee per month. How ridiculous would it be if Netflix required you to pay $15 per movie before they could rent you a DVD?

There's a $10/month "playpack" package (in the US, at least). Some games are only available in the playpack, some games are only available separately. I would argue that on Steam you don't own the game either.

They use their own hardware, not EC2 or anything like that. They need gaming-level GPUs and they have their own compression hardware.

At least on Steam you have unrestricted access to your games, access doesn't get revoked when you cancel your subscription...

If you get booted off Steam or call them to delete your profile you lose your library. The games are yours until Steam say they're not.

The same goes for the full-price titles on OnLive. The playpack is different, it's the same flat monthly fee model as Netflix. And you can also rent the full-priced titles for a short period of time instead of buying them.

To answer StavrosK's question, they're two separate things: the monthly fee gets you access to the "playpack" set for the duration of the subscription, while buying (the "Full PlayPass" in the jargon) the game gets you the game (approximately) forever. There's no base fee to be "a member".

What happens to the games you've bought if you stop paying the monthly fee, though?

Access to OnLive is free, just like having a Steam account is free.

Some games can be bought. So long as the OnLive servers run, they're yours and you don't need to pay a monthly fee (as with Steam games).

Some games can be rented. For a few dollars you can get full access to the game for a time-limited period (24 hours or a few days). The first 30 minutes can usually be obtained free as a demo.

Some games are available in a playpack. This pack has a monthly fee like Netflix. So long as you keep paying the monthly fee you can play any of the games in the playpack (there's about 50) as much as you like.

Oh, I see. Hmm, that's better, but I don't see how it's sustainable for them...

Yes, totally agreed.

The release of free TF2 actually made me realize how there may never be a TF3 -- or at least, not for many, many years. There's little reason to. The gameplay is very good and the engine they are running on is in no way a limiting factor.

The only thing TF3 would have to offer is graphics, and with TF2's "cartoonish" style, I have to wonder what there really is to improve upon there.

More classes!

it is not a loss leader. no company in the face of the planet uses loss leaders. it's a myth. it makes more money than probably any game on steam for them.

Valve makes much more money off Steam sales than it does off making games. They make games because that's what they like doing. At this stage in their business everything is about getting people to use Steam, even if it means giving away their products for free.

Really? How about freemium products? Giving away something for free when it costs you something to at least host the service is the definition of a loss leader.

League of Legends is a free game that has been making a big splash in monetizing through in-game purchases, which I believe TF2 is doing now? I'm wondering if Valve is making a similar big play in this area?

Valve has Steam from which they take 30% of any game sale. So they will never hurt for cash. They can give away every game they ever make and still make a killing from selling others' games because they have the most popular and best working platform.

Valve is now in the content delivery network business and just happen to have a department that produce video games.

Heh, I remember how heavily Steam was derided back when they rolled out the beta. And people screamed bloody murder when they made it so you had to go through Steam to play CS online.

To be fair, it failed completely then -- Steam servers crashed, downloads were slow and it offered virtually no benefit.

It is funny CS enabled Valve to make a ton of money eventually

Valve is also working on DotA 2 (LoL is very similar to the original DotA).

We will have to see when dota2 comes out, but LoL is much more differentiated from dota than, say, HoN. I suspect that LoL will be considered to be "dota1.5".

Free to play has been huge for a while, see Farmville et all and all the f2p mmorpgs. Valve is actually late to the party.

Maybe, but they brought the keg compared to those typically lackluster and/or derivative games.

If anyone hasn't seen this yet, I highly recommend watching this interview with Gabe Newell conducted by a high school marketing/economics class:


Gabe Newell is a founder of Valve Software and I believe he is a true visionary in the industry. Steam would likely not be what it is today if it weren't for his leadership at Valve.

Is there some other way download the game other than stream? With 16Mit connection, i can download only 17KB/second and it suspends all the time... Such times, i think that who designed and/or coded such a system/program should stop working on IT subject... I can understand low download speed (server load, too many downloads etc), but why suspend the download ? and why not f*ckin' auto-resume ?

From Steam, go to View -> Settings -> Downloads + Cloud -> Download Region and choose a server located in off-peak hours right now. Downloads from Steam often are slow when big news like this comes out, but if you connect to a server in a place where its 2am, you usually still get pretty good download speed.

It should resume the download. Something wrong in your case. I suggest you just copy from a friend who have downloaded it.

I've installed Steam again changed download region. It looks like works now.

I don't suppose anyone knows why Valve made TF2 free, do they?

edit: Steam adoption+in-app purchases. Good call.

Pivots aren't common in the gaming industry, but I think we just saw one here. Valve has never produced a Korean model, free-to-play game, but they now have converted one of their most popular products into one, transforming a game whose install base has probably plateaued into a potential new revenue stream.

It's a gutsy move, to be sure.

While awesome, this isn't a particularly gutsy move. Mass-market games make the majority of their money in the first three months, generally, I believe. Considering how long TF2 has been out, I think the potential lost sales are vastly smaller than the potential wins here. That said, good job Valve! I'm so glad to see them experimenting with stuff like this.

That might be true for console titles, but steam based games are a little different, due to the possibility of steam sales. By using the advantages of digital distribution (e.g. infinite stock, razor thin overhead) steam makes it possible to have sales of older games at huge discounts. This then generates a huge volume of sales which can generate substantial revenue (to the degree where steam-sales have actually rescued some game companies from the brink of extinction). Valve doesn't have to release sales figures, but it's a good bet that the revenue curve over time for TF2 has a much fatter and longer tail than for your typical AAA console title.

That being said. The advantage of making TF2 free-to-play are huge. Firstly, the hat-conomy generates plenty of revenue on its own. More importantly, TF2 could quite easily become a gateway drug for casual PC gamers to use steam. More users playing TF2 means more users looking at, say, Terraria for 10 bucks, or Left 4 Dead 2 for 20, or some other relatively recent game at a ridiculous price during a sale.

So technically, I bought TF2 last month. But what I really bought was the orange box, which happens to include it.

I really doubt many people are buying TF2 by itself anymore. Anyone who hasn't played it will almost definitely pick it up as part of a bundle.

Steam has just recently released "Free to Play" games, i.e., games that can be downloaded and used for free via Steam. Making a flagship title like TF2 among this class of games greatly increases awareness of Steam's new free offerings. While I doubt this is the complete reason, it probably played a role.

I would also guess that Valve has something big up their sleeve to be willing to give away such an important money maker, but I have no backing for that other than instinct. Now what would be really awesome would be open-sourcing TF2.

I think we're starting to see some land grabs by bigger players in the digital distribution of games. Electronic Arts has just launched their Origins service and Stardock sold off Impulse to Gamestop. Valve is enticing users onto their platform with all of these free-to-play additions.

I suspect it's because of paid DLC. The ol' razor and blades model - give the game away for free and reap the profit on bought game content (e.g. 'hats'). The margins on those make gillette envious.

Except you need blades to shave -- most hats have no effect on gameplay.

In my experience vanity items with no effect on gameplay attract droves of people with to much disposable income. When I was still playing WoW lots of people were buying things like pets and mounts with no benefit other then looking cool and showing off. I don't see how TF2 hats will be any different.

Regardless, as people said the sales of TF2 have probably mostly dropped off, distributing the game for free costs nothing (well, it costs hosting and bandwidth but I don't suspect those costs make up any significant percentage of Steam's total costs, so effectively the hosting is free) so they have barely any income to lose and a massive fanbase and ingame transaction economy to gain.

Valve makes a killing off the in-game item store. With the game nearly 4 years old I'd say they're pretty much through most of the people who would have bought the game, and making it free increases the number of people playing (good for all the current players) as well as the number of sales of items. Valve makes use of it's community really well, it supports a lot of community events and encourages mod-makers to make items which Valve puts into the game.

It will definitely be interesting to see how the influx of free users will affect the community and the games. I know that people used to detest free weekends when a lot of non-paid newbies would be allowed to play for free on the weekend of an update. Are we getting into an "Eternal September" for TF2?

I believe that for a continually-updated game like TF2, they can continue to make money as younger gamers age into the game's target range (it helps that you can't really resell Steam games). I don't believe there's a strictly limited set of people who are willing to buy any given game.

Because they make tons of money from the in-app store. Valve has done pricing experiments on TF2 for years. Its retail price has varied from $20 to $1.99. They had already mostly saturated the market.

Since they opened the in-app store a few months ago, they've made tons of money. TF2 now sells individual hats for up to $13, more than the retail price of TF2 during many periods. At this point, it becomes obvious: expand the market by making it free to play.

Among all the discussion (and most of it likely very insightful) I don't see one thing being mentioned. Maybe new TF2 purchases had slowed to a point where they felt giving it away and focusing on in-game purchases was simply comparative, if not preferable?

I love the robustness of TF2, and Valve has been awesome about continuously providing new content for free, but, it's something to consider.

They have already made a heap of money off it, so they can get more people into steam and they have also had in game purchases.

Perhaps to promote Steam adoption?

I think there's no doubt this is great for Valve.

But as a player who dearly misses vanilla TF2, how is Valve going to combat the influx of greifers and hackers? What stops someone from running TF2 in a VM and continually making new accounts?

I wish there was a way to bring back TF2 as it originally was (no hats, no gimmicks). But I guess the transition to gaming as a service was inevitable. Valve has been going in that direction for a long time.

I hope they do make a proper Half-Life 3.

I haven't tried it, but I think you can mod out hats. You can certainly host a server which restricts players to only the original weapons, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone's already done that.

There's nothing stopping anyone from running their own dedicated server and blacklisting all the non-standard weapons. In fact, a lot of the competitive communities do exactly that.

Ironically, you can probably get the purest TF2 experience today on its least-preferred platform, the PS3. I don't think that version was ever updated with even the earliest tweaks.

I am really unhappy about the move towards premium-content, DLC, IAP or however you want call what's happening in the gaming industry right now. When I play a game I do not want to make financial real world decisions and I don't want my gaming experience to be altered by my real world wallet. Isn't it the point of gaming to get away from worries like that?! I also want to be able to experience the game as it was originally intended by the game designer. That last point is not so much of an issue with a game like TF2, but more so with RPGs like Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Is the game balanced right with the stronger bonus armor that I got for per-ordering or does this make the game too easy??

I wonder how they'll deal with cheaters, since you can now have infinite copies for free.

Cheating through item drop mining with multiple accounts can't be done without paying for some in-game store item that makes the account a premium one, since free accounts can only be on the recieving end of a trade and have item restrictions (eg no hats).

If you mean the much more serious VAC-evasion by creating new accounts, they mentioned they would be cracking down on those, but no so sure about the specifics.

It's less of an issue than you'd think. People become incredibly vested in their accounts. Hundreds of hours of playtime earning items and real money to buy others. Not many players will risk their time and money investments by trying to cheat.

Aimbot is still an issue as you can make throw away accounts. If a game supports the concept of "high player level" servers it's less problematic.

I think the question becomes "Will people really want to make a new Steam account every time they want to cheat?"

You would be surprised by the amount of cheaters with multiple accounts in source games even though they weren't free.

i've been using Steam for Mac and playing TF2 since it came out, and eventually bought other games (L4D2, Killing Floor, all of Half-Life series games + Portal 1+2). Till then i have never bought some many games. I just love Steam, the way it works ("stores" your [save] games on the cloud). It's an amazing system and i hope other industries can learn some lessons here (something i tried to talk about here http://zemanel.eu/on-filesharing-steampowered-and-the-film-i... ).

Confession: I still miss the original TF.

Indeed, the old maps and the original Demoman with is bomb pack were awesome.

In case you're wondering (and you should) you can craft any item you can buy. I have pretty much the best loadout possible, without paying for anything, and it's all from items that you get when you die (which is a lot).

The best loadout IMO is the one you get by default.

I won't deny that the other weapons are tons of fun to play with, though. (Everyone has to play a Demoknight at least once!). But you will be competitive without a single drop. The guns are balanced well.

I've not heard of TF2, but the characters are quite unique in the sense that none of the them conform to our daily ideas of what heroes look like.

If you haven't seen them, the Meet the Team videos are absolutely worth watching:


The Medic video just came out yesterday:


I wouldn't call the characters heroes. Demoman is a scottish drunk. Heavy loves massacres. The medic seems like a former nazi who delights in torture. They enjoy killing their enemies and celebrating the slaughter.

The cartoon-y style definitely takes the edge off though.

All the characters are adorable though!

And now Steam gets even more customers.

Brilliant move. Steam has consumed a lot more of my money than any other store like it, and TF2 is a fantastic hook.

Wow, I just paid for this game a week ago. No big deal though, it's a good game I hear. I have yet to have a chance to play it.

Dont worry. Paid games have additional features.

I just paid for this like 5 days ago! BLARG!

Not a total loss, you get a premium account automatically.

Q. Who has a premium account? If you've ever spent money on TF2, you have a premium account. This includes purchasing the game before it was Free-to-Play, activating a retail version of the game, or making a purchase in the Mann Co. in-game store.

Q. How is a free account different than a premium account? Premium accounts have a few extra features, including access to rare and cosmetic items through random item drops, the ability to store more items in your backpack, and more powerful trading and crafting abilities. Otherwise, the gameplay experience will be identical for both accounts.


Contact Valve tech support, they might refund your money.

Thanks for the tips, folks!

Am I the only one who thought the headline meant Guy Steele's Fortress-the-programming-language team is leaving Oracle?

What if I don't want to install that trashy Steam app?

If Steam is required, it's a gimmick and a joke.

Steam is completely integrated with the game. The server browser in-game is actually just steam, so it really would make no sense at all to have TF2 without steam.

What exactly is your critique of Steam, just that you are fundamentally opposed to DRM? I do agree that it's something that I don't really want automatically starting up with my computer (even though I'm a pretty heavy gamer, I don't use the steam friend chat or anything) but as a platform and a piece of software it doesn't seem too trashy.

The first time I installed Steam was when it came with Half Life, and back then it was a steaming pile of crap. So bad, in fact, that I deleted it and didn't touch it again until 2 years ago.

A lot has changed since then, but some folks might not yet be aware of it.

True, back in the days of Counter Strike 1.6 it was a terrible, buggy piece of DRM. It's improved by leaps and bounds since then.

Well, at least until the Steam authentication servers go offline if Valve ever shuts down. While Gabe Newell has been quoted as saying that if that were to happen they would unlock everyone's games, it bugs me that there has been no official offer of such. Until then, people can continue to point at Steam and say "but DRM == evil!"

Game Newell sounds like a man that'll be good by his word. I may eat my own words, but I trust him for that.

You do understand that if anything happened to the company he'd be legally prohibited from releasing anti-DRM patches, right? It'd destroy the shareholders' value.

Unless it's in writing as a condition of your purchase, and the code is in escrow somewhere, it ain't happening.

You mentioned "shareholders". Think about who owns Valve -- I understand Gabe owns 100% of the company.

It's privately held, so the information on who owns it isn't public. Mike Harrington was a co-founder, he may still have some stake in the company.

Yeah, I should have said creditors. It's more to the point.

I find it hard to believe Valve has any debt whatsoever.

The point though is that these vague promises to unDRM products are probably not permitted even if they thought about it and had the patches ready. And this isn't just a Valve thing, id software said something similar when Quake3 first required an online auth check to play on registered servers.

But considering how much you'd lose if Steam went away I can see why people are nervous of using them versus buying CDs.

How much more official does it get than the president of the company?

Well, it's not a contract. Valve isn't actually obligated to do that. (That said, aren't all contractual obligations up in the air when a company goes bankrupt? Can a company promise anything beyond its bankruptcy?)

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