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Team Fortress Free to Play: what a tizz!

So, Team Fortress 2 has been F2P for almost 2 weeks and it’s caused much excitement.

The Steam Forums exploded for a while, I think it’s starting to simmer down now. Premium players were outraged at the lower quality, noobish players suddenly invading their game, the F2P were indignant at the snobish behaviour of the Premium player. Many threads were created over the plugin to kick f2p players. Accusations of racism were flung. Someone (a premium player) demanded a boycott of servers using it, others were in strong support; no-one seemed to be able to find servers actually implementing it apart from a few trade servers, of limited use to f2pers anyway since they don’t have full trading rights.

The Competitive community  remained cheerful, in the EU at least, and took on a slightly mad, evangelical bent. F2p potentially meant more people to drag into comp play and into the community, as players or spectators.

And yes, f2p did mean more players. A good thing as players are the lifeblood of any mulitplayer game.

But I can see the point of those who were less certain. Foolishness had been said about the character of f2pers (hackers, not caring, rude, not listening), but really, in my experience, they have been no different in skill or attitude of any new player, good or bad. What has been the problem is the  number. Normally, you’d get perhaps one, maybe two new players on a server. Overall, the game would not be affected. After f2p, the majority of players might be new and gameplay would suffer. It’s suffered on my community clan server. But it’ll be a short-term thing. These players will either move on, or remain in the game and improve. What a lot of servers have done, mine included, is to increase the number of admins to monitor gameplay and behaviour.

And it has been interesting playing alongside the newcomers. They love playing Spy and Sniper (using sub-machine guns). One time I was a Demoman on a team where almost everyone was Spy or Sniper, with a couple of scouts. We lost badly.

Team Fortress 2 goes Free to Play


So, Team Fortress 2 is go Free to Play, as part of the Uber Update today (said to be the biggest, most ambitious update in all of TF2 history)

I could be lazy and just cut and paste this from when LoTRO was going f2p. But I won’t, other than just saying we had no flood of members coming to us after f2p and noticed very little difference, just a few ex-members with lapsed subscriptions drifting back.

Ditto I suspect with TF2. There have been a few concerns expressed; a possible increase in hackers and cheaters but Valve have said they’ll be putting in extra precautions, and maybe they’ll be more people causing offence on servers. This last may mean the server Admins may have a little more work in the short-term, kicking and banning. But overall it will bring new people to the game and allow more people to try it out.

And in the same way that Turbine gave people who had bought lifetime memberships in LoTRO, VIP status and free monthly points to spend in the store, Valve has given anyone who has spent money in TF2, including buying the game – I’m glad that counts, a premium account. This gives access to more backpack space, access to rare and cosmetic items as random drops, and full trading and crafting abilities. There is also a Proof of Purchase hat.

If you are on a f2p account and you spend any money within the game, you get upgraded to a premium account. But you don’t get the hat.

Proof of Purchase hat

Hot off the Press: on my community clan server we’ve already had a shiny new player accuse one of the clan members of hacking.

Hot off the Press 2: someone has already created a mod that automatically kicks non-premium players

European Free to Play launch date during Week off!

Well there’s a coincidence, European F2P is going to start on 2nd Tuesday which happens to be when I’ve booked a week off from work (and it looks like the servers will be taken down at 1 am UK time; overnight – nice). 

And probably also when I’ve finally managed to install the Beta; note to self, when downloading overnight don’t leave computer set to sleep-mode after 30 mins. It’s hard work being Berath sometimes. I’m actually only doing it for the 500 Turbine Points which I might not get anyway as the trial has actually finished. In fact I don’t even know if the torrent I found will still be up when I get back to my desktop.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens on Tuesday. 

We’ve vaguely talked about how it will influence the kinship. Not in the ‘we’ll be flooded with oiks’ sort of way, more the in the ‘we’ll have more transient members’ way. People who join, are keen but never get round to subscribing and eventually just drift off. We have always had our share of people who pass through, every kinship does no problem, but will we get more? Will it be unsettling? We  don’t want to impose a ‘we’ll ignore you until you start paying’  regime. But at the same time there is a limit to the number of times you can be friendly and inclusive to new members who then disappear.

It may be a non-issue. Any new people attracted by F2P may want to form their own kinships. They may not want to join kinships for old crusties around since the start. Or of course we may find ourselves continuing to attract people who intend to stay and stay until life and circumstances call them away to other kinships, other games or real life (what’s that?).

LOTRO Free to Play: the hordes amass!

Yes, LOTRO is going Free to Play, or rather F2P.

Oh. Oh dear. Lots of screaming, swearing, noobs hell bent on destroying life as we know it. Change. Oh dear again.

Or perhaps not. We don’t know yet. We could just get more people who’d like to try LOTRO out with friends and family and who don’t actually want to kill us.

I’ve been trying to work out what it all means and what I think about it; it’s taken me a while, I think slowly. And I’m not sure. We’ve been assured more new content. We’ve been promised a wardrobe for our cosmetic items which is nice. I’ve a lifetime subscription so I’m going to be automatically switched to VIP status. That means I’m going to be a Very Important Person which is nice too.

I get 500 points per month starting from now. I can buy things with these like more character slots and wardrobe slots. But nothing game breaking like a +50 vitality vorpal sword. Well Turbine have said that anyway. Which is good. So I will  just hope to buy ‘stuff’. And experience endless purchase prevarication over useless tat. Which is the story of my life really anyway.

It looks like not a lot will change in the most basic, immediate sense. Non-VIPs will have fewer character slots, less storage, reduced access to areas of the game. They will still have to buy the Mines of Moria and Mirkwood.  But Lifers and subscription payers will continue as usual. Paying, or not paying; the same. We can stay in our little kinship bubbles with our friends and allies, taking refuge beyond the expansion packs. Sending scouts into Bree.

After deep consideration, this is the approach I’ve decided to take; stay in my bubble and pretend nothing is going to happen. Denial. It’s easy when you get into the swing of it. At some point, I can emerge when F2P is established and become normal and then it won’t be a Change any more. It will be alright. But I hope on Laurelin, my server, that roleplaying survives alright and Codemasters helps support the roleplaying environment for the sakes of everyone, veterans and new arrivals.

I think that would be nicest of all.