Yesterday, the dreams of Team Fortress 2 players the world over came true as the Polycount Update pack was released. With 65 new items added to the game, you’d imagine the TF2 community was ecstatic.
But, as Valve is wont to include, there was a catch.
At least, that’s what one would believe if he were to read the dozens of complaint-ridden threads on SPUF, forewarning the impending death of Team Fortress 2.
What was this insult, that would bring about the End Days? What terrible tragedy could possibly befall the greatest Hat Simulator of all time?
It wasn’t a game-breaking bug, or the removal of an oft-beloved feature.
It was the optional Mann Co. Catalog and Store.
As Saxton Hale himself would say, “Grow some chest hair and quit your crying, you good-for-nothing hippies.”
Your rage, disappointment, and skepticism of the Mannconomy changes to TF2 are not only unfounded, but hilarious. And while there are about 31 reasons why you should stop your sobbing and uninstall Team Fortress 2, I’ll focus on the strongest arguments for why you’re wrong.
#1. Paying is optional
You don’t have to buy anything. Nobody is forcing you to buy anything. In fact, if you bought any of the Polycount weapons, I’d go so far to say that you’re a sucker, as they can all be crafted extremely cheaply. As delineated in the FAQ (that most whiners failed to read), you can still obtain these items via random drops or crafting, so for people who don’t want to pay, nothing has changed.
#2. Paying benefits item creators
Many of the items created by the commnity took dozens of hours to complete. Rewarding these creative souls will increase the likelihood that they and others will continue to contribute to Team Fortress 2.
#3. Valve needs TF2 to be profitable
I bought TF2 as part of the Orange Box at launch. Many people did the same, or bought the game when it was on sale for $5. If you think Valve is still making a considerable amount of money off of retail/Steam sales of Team Fortress 2, you’re kidding yourself. Valve has updated the game for free for 3 years; if you want the company to be able to support future updates and upgrades, you have to understand they don’t pay their employees in good intentions. If you ever want to see a TF3, you know it relies on Valve not remembering TF2 as “a fiscal disaster.”
#4. Set prices prevent eBay scalping
Now that trading is incorporated into the game, it wouldn’t be crazy to imagine what would happen if the Mann Co. store didn’t exist. You’d see eBay auctions going up selling hats for $20 each, or Polycount items for easily double what Valve is asking. By creating the Mann Co. store, Valve has preemptively destroyed price gouging on item sales. Are some of the prices a bit high? Sure. But again, they are completely optional.
#5. Microtransactions benefit busy people
A lot of people playing Team Fortress 2 aren’t college students with endless free time. Many players, like myself, have full time jobs and other responsibilities that come before 10-hour grinding sessions. As I talked about in a previous article about microtransactions, this system allows players who don’t have endless free time (but do have some disposable income) to catch up to players with the opposite arrangement.
#6. Admit it, TF2 has been a steal
Although it’s almost shameful to say, I’ve logged hundreds of hours in Team Fortress 2 since its launch 3 years ago. Are a couple dozen/hundred of those hours from idling for weapon and hat drops? Maybe. Regardless, Team Fortress 2 has been a steal, especially considering its sub-$20 pricetag through much of its life. Can anyone really claim Valve has bilked consumers? If they hope you buy a single, $5 item, is that so insane, given the ridiculous deal on the game itself and over 1,200 days of awesome, free updates?
Team Fortress 2 is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, multiplayer FPS experiences available. Valve has poured untold resources into its development, release, and continued support. However, like all products, it must maintain fiscal viability in order to be deemed a long-term success. The Mann Co. Store provides that viability while remaining optional for all players (but giving a solid catch-up option to busy fans). Additionally, the store rewards creative contributors and staves off a seedy secondhand market. Yes, many items are overpriced, but again, those prices are optional.