Team Fortress 2 tests Valve's 'long-term survival' ideas

Valve's Robin Walker talks about how Team Fortress 2 became a test bed for shifting marketplace trends.


If you've been paying any amount of attention to Team Fortress 2, you've probably noticed that it's home to some of Valve's wackier ideas. The company says it may not have started as a test bed, but it's certainly become one as it's used to experiment with new strategies.

"In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we've ever built to reduce risk in our company's future," lead designer Robin Walker said.

"It's been really nice that it's also brought in significant revenue throughout that time, but ultimately, the importance we place on understanding our business and our customers has made it totally worthwhile." Walker told Gamasutra that without TF2, Valve's lack of experience in monetization would be "terrifying."

He says the hidden goal for TF2 was to explore ideas that "were potentially a requirement for the long-term survival of the company." When the game first came out, it appeared that MMOs were going to take over the market, so Valve started building persistent items. When the free-to-play market rose, it used TF2 as a test bed for microtransactions. The gambles seem to be paying off, as the game continues to evolve and remain popular.

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    September 14, 2012 2:45 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Team Fortress 2 tests Valve's 'long-term survival' ideas.

    Valve's Robin Walker talks about how Team Fortress 2 became a test bed for shifting marketplace trends.

    • reply
      September 14, 2012 3:38 PM

      Yep, and everyone is getting free updates/content too!

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      September 14, 2012 8:55 PM

      I've played Team Fortress every month or so since it was a mod for Quake 1. I have loved how it's evolved!

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      September 15, 2012 6:47 AM

      Team Fortress 2 might be my overall absolute favourite game of all time. I've never had this much fun with any other game.

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        September 15, 2012 7:03 AM

        It's definitely up there for mine. I've been playing it fairly regularly since the day it came out. It's always there for you when you get sick of that new $60 game you just bought.

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      September 15, 2012 8:43 AM

      I really wished that they had given at least some support for the console version of TF2. I can't keep up with computer upgrades at the moment and it's pretty much dead on 360.

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        September 15, 2012 1:32 PM

        Unless you're really far behind on upgrades it'll probably work. I've played it on a laptop with just the Sandy Bridge integrated GPU and it played fine.

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      September 16, 2012 5:22 PM

      In 1999 there were 3 games that 3 hardcore camps were waiting for. Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress 2. I happened to be in the latter camp.

      Time went on and the former two games went on to massive success (the then "Sugashack" hosted some of the most intense flame wars between the Quake and Unreal camps ever witnessed on the WWW). The TF2 fans bid their time. 2 great TF style mods came out for Quake 3 and gave relief .

      today one would hardly believe what has come to pass. Fast paced DM style games (a-la Quake and UT) are largely ignored and a totally different TF2 came out went on to its own amazing success.

      Funny how things work out.

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      September 17, 2012 8:35 AM

      Persistant items.... microtransactions... you can test all you want but it helps to have a great game as the starting point, which TF2 is.