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The Almighty Buck Games

Micro-Transactions Coming To Team Fortress 2 Via Steam Wallet 161

whoop writes "Valve has announced that Team Fortress 2 will be getting a new Mann Co. Store to buy trinkets with real money through a service called Steam Wallet. TF2 is the first game to use this new Steam Wallet, but the money can be spent on anything in Steam, including full games. This would open them up to featuring gift cards, micro-transaction games, and more." PC Gamer has an interview with Valve's Robin Walker about why they're doing this. Walker says everything they're selling will still be obtainable by playing the game, other than a few cosmetic items.
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Micro-Transactions Coming To Team Fortress 2 Via Steam Wallet

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  • Price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkXale ( 1771414 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:23AM (#33756568)
    And its some 50€ for the full package of new items. I know what I'm -not- buying.
  • by Jojoba86 ( 1496883 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:37AM (#33756614)
    You may be understimating just how long the grinding will take. 200 hours to get a random hat, of which there are 5, sound good to you? That's a lot of play time to get the one you want.
  • Re:Final nail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:55AM (#33756680)

    Exactly! The first most frustrating thing about what Valve has done to the game over the last 3 years is adding the items. The second most frustrating thing is that server admins don't have the power to turn this stuff off. If you could run a "pure" server (to steal a term from Unreal Tournament) where it disables all purchased/unlocked items and makes it behave like the original 2007 game, then the vast majority of the complaints would stop.

    As it stands Steam holds the game hostage. There's no way to revert the game - you have to play the latest version as Valve intends it. For the traditional MP FPS crowd, being unable to control the game like this is simply mind-boggling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:58AM (#33756694)

    I think that's the point. A lot of people will do without. They'll just go ahead and do without the whole game, in fact.

  • Re:Price (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mejogid ( 1575619 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:04AM (#33756716)
    Why? All the items that count can be earned by playing well/regularly - these micro-transactions are exactly that: single, small transactions to buy the odd item that you haven't got yet and can't be bothered to wait around for.
  • by D J Horn ( 1561451 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:04AM (#33756718)

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw the post this morning, I'm not a fan of microtransactions in games, as I've never seen it executed in a way that didn't punish players into using it.

    But I read all about it, and then checked it out for myself. It actually seems like this system was built with a fair dose of common sense, something I've come to expect from Valve.

    First and foremost is the fact that all the items are still attainable in game. But wait, did they make them really rare drops or difficult to craft in order to push people toward purchasing? Nope, they're still the same as they've always been. Easily crafted by anyone who plays much at all.

    But hold on, these systems always have stupid virtual currency that you can only buy in chunks that don't match the item costs. You want an item that costs 3500 neato-points but you can only buy points in chunks of 2000! Oh, Valve's system uses real currency tied to your steam account, that you can use anywhere on steam. That actually makes sense.

    Surely there is a catch though. These new items must be overpowered and imbalanced to make them worth buying, right? That's what most games do (cough BF Heroes cough) but it doesn't really work when people can still get the items without buying them. And it turns out the stats are all in line with the way Valve has always added new items to TF2. They all have their ups and downs and are more a matter of playstyle and taste than outright better/worse. There are still plenty of people who used the old original items simply because that's what they're best with.

    BUT HOLD ON, WE'VE FOUND THE EVIL PLOT! Most item's are community made, Valve is profiting off content they don't even have to make themselves!! Oh nevermind, community designers are given a cut of any sales their item makes, which is probably the coolest thing about the whole system. As someone who's mapped and modded Source as a hobby over the years, and having friends who actually made items in this very update, I think it is absolutely awesome that they're getting money out of something they'd normally love to do just for fun.

    This is is precisely the microtransaction system I would expect from Valve. I have no problems with it and I have yet to read any legitimate arguments against it.

  • Re:Final nail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Magada ( 741361 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:11AM (#33756742) Journal

    Annoying is more likely. I used to enjoy |TF2 so much, I played in preference to any other fps out there. Not anymore. What's worse, grinding noobs for items in tf2 is even more boring than grinding mobs for items in other games - at least some mobs have interesting behaviors and abilities designed in, while noobs are utterly boring and predictable.

  • Re:Final nail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:20AM (#33756768)

    Why have you been playing at all? You've had to grind for items since the first patch, why does including an option to skip over the grind make the grind (which I reiterate, has already existed) intolerable? Have you thought this through, or is it a hyperbolic reaction to a new feature you don't like?

    for a casual player who isnt in it for the items, it is somewhat acceptable that people who play for ages have some advantages (better weapons/items). You can somewhat side-step that by not getting into servers with only the best players (they will own you anyway, regardless of any advantages, they just tend to be more skilled/faster), however this pay-per-gun system wrecks the idea of playing among your peers, since the guy you previously were on equal footing with, will have spent a few bucks on the better gun, gaining an advantage, ruining your experience.

    Allowing people to buy better weapons in games quickly gives rise to a prisoners dilemma, either you also spend the money (on top of what you paid for the game), or you will have your lunch eaten by the people that do, the only winning move is not to play...

    (i had this experience in BF2 years back, the special forces expansion allowed people to use (better) weapons which they unlocked in SF to be used in the regular maps, giving SF-buyers an edge on the normal maps, in the end i ended up buying the expansion, mostly for the sniper rifle... although i did enjoy the maps as well)

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:20AM (#33756772)

    If I wanted to make real world spending decisions about new hats I'd go to the mall. I even get a real hat.
    I don't need to buy a game for the privilege of experiencing spending money 'just like real life' on things that don't even exist or belong to me after 'buying' them.

    Further, if just like real life was a good reason to implement something than team fortress 2 would have you lose a limb in the first firefight and then spend six to 12 months teaching your avatar to walk with a prosthetic and try to build a new life far away from combat.

    Games are about providing enjoyment and entertainment. If you want to argue that spending real money on in game hats is somehow more fun than other methods of getting in game hats then feel free to make that case. But falling back on 'its just like real life' is completely specious.

  • by D J Horn ( 1561451 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:30AM (#33756800)

    You get wasted without new items? I think you're just projecting your dying on whatever appears to be a likely suspect.

    Yeah there's a lot of new stuff compared to vanilla TF2, but variety doesn't mean imbalance. Its all about playstyle and taste. Lots of people still use the old gear.

    Does everyone use the kritzkrieg instead of the ubercharge? Not even close.
    Does everyone use the huntsman bow instead of the sniper rifle? Definitely not.
    Does everyone use the direct hit instead of the old rocket launcher? Yeah right, most competitive soldiers don't touch it.

    So you hop onto TF2 after not playing for a long time and see a whole bunch of new things, and then die to someone wielding and item you've never seen before. OH THAT MUST BE WHY THEY WERE ABLE TO KILL YOU, if only you had it too you wouldn't have died, right? It's just a convenient excuse.

    But sure, TF2 is -somewhat- different now than it was originally, and liking its original form better is perfectly fair. But on the other hand, new content is what keeps most players coming back. You might be one of those guys who still plays counterstrike or quake decades from now, but you'll certainly be the minority. TF2 would be nothing but pleasant memories among me and my friends if it had never gotten new content to periodically bring us back from time to time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @06:22AM (#33756994)
    I love that this got modded troll. Fucking retards....
  • Re:Final nail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @06:28AM (#33757012)

    Well I guess I will not be playing TF2 again. Despite the 'it's optional defence' some of the items will give advantages. You can still get them all randomly, so it's a choice of grind or pay up. I think I'll do neither.

    It's amazing how angry people can get over the idea of paying for new content. In my opinion this is a much better model than releasing expansions that prevent others playing with the majority population without purchasing it. I recently reinstalled the game and to be sure, everyone has weird hats etc but I cannot say I found any noticeable disadvantage in having none of these gimmicks, my scores are middling same as they were a year or more ago when I last played it and I'm grateful to be able to still play with everyone without having to fork out 10 or 20 for the new maps and gear etc.

  • Re:Price (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imakemusic ( 1164993 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @06:42AM (#33757054)

    I haven't looked into it but apparently these items will be purely cosmetic. They'll probably just be things to identify the player as someone who has used the service in the same way that white Apple earbuds became available when you play TF2 on a Mac.

  • by derfy ( 172944 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:49AM (#33757610) Homepage Journal

    No unique fish taunt. :(

  • Re:Final nail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:29AM (#33757924)

    This can't be true!

    After all, Valve are the guys that invented an online DRM system and digital download store that screws you but at least lubes you up first (not like the competition's online-DRM which uses no lube). I mean, just look at all posts from defenders of it saying how you can be offline for a while and still play the games or re-download them when you loose them - sure it's not as good as a simple serial number, but at least it's not as bad as living in North Korea ...

    I'm sure that they haven't added must-have-pay-with-cash items to a highly competitive, fast-paced kind of game like an online FPS after releasing the game and after loads of people had bought it: that would be sneaky and deceitful, not to mention a lub-less screwing of customers.

    This kind of thing is the purvey of Machiaveli-inspired companies like Sony Entertainment, not good guys like Valve.





  • by res1216 ( 1785928 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:19AM (#33758492)
    Observations, in rough order of significance.

    1.) The default weapons are some of the most powerful, flexible weapons in the game. Rocket launcher, minigun, scattergun, butterfly knife, sticky bombs, medigun (etc.) are all core to game play, and you'll never be at an item-based disadvantage playing with a stock loadout. The new items (all the way back to the medic update), range from situational to strict downgrades. The only real mistake was version-1 backburner, when it gave 50 health, and that only lasted two months. (Melee weapons are the possible exception here--especially the ubersaw and equalizer--but it's probably okay balance-wise for the melee weapons to be above the curve.)
    I played last night; some players had bought new item sets. I didn't really notice a difference. Sure, if you get hit with milk (non-milk substance!), another scout has a 1v1 advantage, but that's a corner case. The new sniper rifle is good, and makes the sniper more team-oriented, but that ignores just how absurd the default sniper rifle is. On the other hand, being killed by a fish IS mighty humiliating.
    The upshot is, that you can compete on a level playing field without spending a penny at the store.

    2.) The store is purely value-added. The new items are in the same mold as the community-created content added this spring. Valve could have continued to release them the same way, by adding them to the drop system. This time, though, the also provided the option (apparently a widely-requested one) to allow players to purchase the items instead of taking their chances with the drop system. The important thing, though, is that if you don't want to pay for additional content, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. From your p.o.v. the system is just like it was for every other set of new items since the sniper/spy update.

    3.) The comments about "grinding" being a poor way to earn paid content pretty much entirely miss the point. Valve was wise enough to tie item drops to nothing but time played. There's no kill farming or achievement whoring required. If playing TF2 qualifies as "grinding" for you, I'd suggest that finding a game you enjoy.

    4) TF2 players complain. About everything. Grenades (lack thereof), pyros, the Sandman, demomen, achievements, new weapons, hats, the drop system, idlers, should I keep going? It wouldn't surprise me if somewhere on the forum, someone is complaining that Red is OP. Lost in this is the fact that the game is incredibly fun, and has provided amazing long-term value. The game has never in it's life been 50 dollars (unless you count the Orange Box), and has never had a subscription fee. And yet Valve has quadrupled the number of available maps (not even counting the community-made ones that they incorporated and polished), tripled the number of available weapons, and added two entirely new game modes. Complaining that they began offering the option to purchase freely-available content three years into the game's lifespan is the very epitome of ingratitude.
  • Re:Ya sorry Valve (Score:2, Insightful)

    by a20tornado ( 1757144 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @02:23PM (#33762892)

    I... just really don't understand. If you don't want to pay for a hat, or a gun, or whatever... just don't. I really enjoy the game, but there is very little chance that I'd be spending money on new weapons, and absolutely no chance I'll buy the cosmetic items. No one is forcing you to spend the money on it. You don't need to have *any* of those items to play the game. I have gotten several of the unlocks over the course of playing the game, and I still choose to use the original weapons in some cases because I like them better. I'm not a pro at the game by any means, but I can generally hold my own play how I want with the weapons I like. If people want to spend money to bypass the need to play the game and wait for the drops, that's their call. It's not going to make them automatically better at the game, just give them some different ways to play. And personally I think Valve deserves to get a little extra something for all the work they've put into TF2. I haven't necessarily liked every single update that's come out for it, but at least they're *trying* to keep the game from becoming stagnant and stale.

    And if you don't like the game... just don't play it. If you don't think it looks good, don't buy it. If you bought it a few years ago, but think it's become outdated in that time, just stop playing it. No one is forcing you to spend your time or money on this game, you're completely free to go off and spend your time playing whatever else you'd like. Obviously there are a lot of people that do enjoy it, because a ton of people play the game, a ton of people flood in to try out the updates, and a ton of people are crafting, creating, and wearing/using these items.

    Just because this style/feature isn't for you, that doesn't make it invalid. Play what you'd like to, spend your money the way you'd like, and let other people do the same.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault