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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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  • Re:Price (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jojoba86 ( 1496883 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:25AM (#33756580)
    It's simply amazing that they thought charging more for items than the game itself could make sense.
  • A Well-Executed Plan (Score:2, Interesting)

    by keatonguy ( 1001680 ) <keaton.prower@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:35AM (#33756602)

    I'm going to jump in early on this one. If you actually read the fucking article, nothing being put up for sale is only available through sale. Everything can still be found and crafted the old-fashioned way, with the same drop rates and the same recepies. This merely gives people who don't like grind a means to skip over it. Furthermore, they've ousted my most hated aspect of microtransactions, Game Co. Funny Money, allowing you to put money in as money, not as points, which you can then use on anything on Steam.

    This is the best way to build a microtransaction system. Once again, Valve legitimizes a system loathed and reviled rabidly by slashdot posters and the OSS community at large. Bravo, Mr. Newell.

  • Steam wallet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:42AM (#33756634) Journal

    I like the Steam wallet idea as a general principle, provided they develop it properly; gift-cards, in particular, have been a glaring omission from Steam for quite some time and I'd love to see them introduced. Yes, you can buy games as gifts for other steam users, but there's a relatively high barrier to doing so - you need to make an account, set up your payment details in it, mess around with the friends list etc. This means that unlike, say, Xbox Live, where you can just walk into a shop to buy a gift-card, there's no realistic way for non-gamers to give gift-cards to Steam-users. To be honest, given the number of gift cards that circulate every Christmas (not to mention birthdays throughout the year), I'm surprised they've missed out on this particular revenue stream for so long.

    But I'm much less sold on the whole micro-payments for in-game content thing. I don't mind DLC as a concept; I've bought a good few pieces for games I'm particularly fond of; the Mass Effect games, Dragon Age, Forza 3 and Lost Odyssey spring to mind. However, these have all tended to be fairly substantial chunks of content that significantly extend the single-player experience. I tend to see these as small expansion packs, and provided they're priced appropriately, I'm happy to buy. The idea of buying plug-in content for a competitive multiplayer game, however, just feels like a bridge too far...

    None of the DLC on offer here really seems to add anything new to the game. As they say, it's only really cosmetic stuff that can't be obtained via entirely in-game methods. And I'm sorry, but while cosmetic stuff as DLC has been there from the infancy of the concept (yay horse armour), I'm still not going to part money for that. So what you're really buying is a shortcut. They're mixing the in-game and real-world economies and allowing people willing to spend real money to speed up their progress in the game.

    It's very close to the most hilariously awful form of DLC around. You might not have come across this yet, as to date it's been limited to a relatively small number of (mostly Japanese) not very good games. You'll find it in the likes of Cross Edge and Argarest Wars, but also in the odd Western title like Dante's Inferno. I'm talking about the ability to buy, using real money, in-game cash, items and experience points for your single-player game. As in, this is all stuff that's present in the base game, on the disk that you have paid money for, and isn't (generally) even locked away. But if you want to get it without hours of grinding, you've got to pay money. What they're basically saying (and the design of many of the games affected is clearly supposed to support this) is: "We've given you a game here, but if you actually want to enjoy it properly, you've got to give us some more money now. Because if you don't... well... I hope you like running in circles killing rats. Because that's where the next 20 hours of your life will be going".

  • Quick Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sammysheep ( 537812 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:58AM (#33756696)
    Are these items merely cosmetic (a la some blizzard promos) or do they actually confer advantage? If the latter, I could see this going in the direction of games like Magic the Gathering, where having more money IRL means you have a better chance of buying better cards and therefore winning. I'd hate to see an FPS video game go in that direction, since it's a very different genre than a collector's trading card game..
  • Ya sorry Valve (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:21AM (#33756774)

    I'm not at all opposed to the idea of micro transactions. On the contrary, I like the idea when done right. Mass Effect 2 does a great job. They released a good game, well worth the money. However they've continued to develop for it and you can get new content. They just released an addon for $10. It adds a good bit of new, unique, gameplay. They spent a good deal of work developing it, new visuals, new voice tracks, etc. It is a worthwhile upgrade for the money, if you enjoy the game.

    Well the TF2 stuff has two big problems:

    1) The TF2 engine is a POS. Seriously, that game has all kinds of problems, owing to the age of its engine. If I am going to spend money for DLC, it'll be on a newer game that runs well on my system. I'm not saying it doesn't render frame fast, its older graphics insure that happens. However it stutters often because it doesn't handle streaming well, it takes forever to load content, its interface has a number of problems, etc. Sorry, but compare that to say Bad Company 2 and there is no comparison. I'm just not really interested in putting money in to a game that isn't well updated for my system.

    2) More importantly, they have to get the fuck out of here with those prices. $5 for a gun? $18 for a hat? What the fuck is that shit? For the price of one hat I could get the new ME2 DLC and still have enough left over for one of their older DLCs ($7 each) or a few weapons packs if I really wanted (which are $2 for a pack with multiple items). They are completely off their rocker if they think it is worth that kind of money.

    Really, if they need cash, I'd rather they just produce Team Fortress 3. TF2 is showing its age (though it still ought to behave better, I think Source is also showing its age in general) and maybe it isn't feasible to completely rework the engine. That's fine, do a new TF game with new engine, graphics, maps, etc, and sell it at a new game price. I've no problem with that, it is about 3 years old and I'm ok with the idea that for non-subscription games you have to periodically pay for an update. I also know it is easier to rework things in a new game than to continually modify an existing one.

    However I'm not giving them nearly $20 to have a hat. Sorry.

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

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @07:47AM (#33757264)

    The second most frustrating thing is that server admins don't have the power to turn this stuff off.

    You are full of shit. There are mods that restrict the weapons you can use, and one in particular (Randomizer) even forces specifically chosen weapons on you.

  • Re:Price (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:41AM (#33757552)
    I wouldn't have an issue with micro-transactions if they were, well, micro. Back when these ideas were first being touted it seemed like we'd be talking pennies to buy, and that the profit would come from the cheap distribution model coupled with high volumes of sales (partly driven by the incredibly low price). Instead what we usually see is a few pounds per transaction which, while still hardly wallet-busting, very quickly adds up to the point where, if you buy the game and all the extras, you can easily double the purchase price of the game alone. I can see where this is a great deal for the seller, but as usual it seems the buyer is getting the raw end.
  • Re:Price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @09:45AM (#33758048)

    So I guess the best way to make money with a game is to make a good game. I'm pretty surprised at how little quality there's been in games the past year

    This doesn't really apply here, since TF2 has been out for about 3 years now and is a very high quality game. What people are failing to mention here is that some of the items being sold are made by the players. The designer of these items will also be getting paid every time someone purchases his/her item.

  • by Chowderbags ( 847952 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:41AM (#33758802)

    Easily crafted by anyone who plays much at all.

    They've increased the number of items it takes to do your crafting. Also, item sets require hats, which you'll be lucky to get one for every couple hundred hours of playing (so for someone who doesn't spend all day in their basement, a couple months, and good luck getting the hat you actually want). So yes, while it's theoretically possible to get all the various sets through sheer grinding, you would probably never keep up with it if they start releasing new items/sets every couple months, and to me that's a problem. You used to be able to get all the new class weapons fairly easily, since the pool of total weapons was small and you could grind achievements if the random number gods hated you. Now that there's a huge pool of weapons it's like playing roulette to get the one you actually want (oh gee, another Jarate, just what I didn't want), but it's ok because everyone is under the same system.

    But now we're basically dividing the community into those willing to drop $50 to get a couple hats so that their outfit will come together (meaning that the hats provide a bonus with no ill effects), and those who don't. If we're going to do that, why not just directly sell bonuses? $5 for an extra 50 health on the heavy! $3 so your spy doesn't catch on fire anymore. $10 so your sniper automatically does head shots. And it'd be a'ok if these bonuses "randomly dropped" every couple months for a person, right?

  • Re:Ya sorry Valve (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vic.tz ( 1000138 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @02:02PM (#33762514)

    However I'm not giving them nearly $20 to have a hat. Sorry.

    No need to apologize, friend. I'm sure they're not expecting everyone to buy that hat.

    Here's my TF2 experience: I paid $45 for the Orange Box back when it was released (Oct 2007). That got me HL2 + ep1 + ep2, Portal, and TF2, so if you divvy that up, it'd be fair to say I spent $15 on TF2. Since its launch, Valve has released updates to all nine classes, added several new game modes, and they've added a dozen or so maps (not to mention the entire hat/crafting system). All for free! Three years of updates and support and hundreds of hours of gameplay for $15. I feel like I OWE Valve money for TF2.

    For comparison, Halo 3 was released in Sept 2007, and CoD4 was released in Nov 2007. How much free content was released for those games? Are Bungie or Infinity Ward still developing content for them? Not a chance! Instead, they want you to buy the next revision of the game (i.e. 90% the same) for $60 once or twice each year. TF2 trounces those two and pretty much every other fps franchise in value.

    Yeah, I don't mind giving Valve a few bucks for a hat. They've earned it.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin