Latest Team Fortress 2 Update Delivers A Swift Kick To Item Idling

A few years back, an intelligent member of the Team Fortress 2 community came up with a program that completely automated the "idling" process, allowing players to collect hats, weapons and other in-game trinkets without actually firing up the game. Valve dealt with this particular method a while back, but it's only in the last couple of days it's really clamped down on the practice.

According to reports over on Reddit and various internet forums, Valve has apparently made two changes that make it a lot harder to milk items without interaction.

The first is to disable item drops in "text mode" — that is, running the game without graphics. By using text mode, a player could idle for items in the background while performing other tasks on their PC, thanks to the significantly reduced load on system resources.

The second is to prevent drops if you have "misplaced" items. "Misplaced" means that you've received the item, but haven't accepted it into your inventory. During regular play, misplaced items are put into your inventory during certain events — map changes, player death, etc. Basically, some interaction is required by the player to "accept" the item, something that would not occur while idling.

These changes are not mentioned in Valve's official patch notes for TF2, but that comes as no surprise. For regular players (and those who idle manually), this doesn't change anything but for serial idlers running many sessions of the game at once, it's going to cause them some consternation.

[TF2] Valve changes item drop mechanics, automated idling no longer works [Reddit]


    Kinda irritating. The mass idlers - the guys who had thousands of accounts - were not only paying Valve $5 each time for the same game, they were largely responsible for 90% of the hats/items being affordable to most players.

    It is possible that Valve got annoyed by the farmers being able to benefit by recent Valve-initiated changes - being able to sell items/trading cards for Steambucks - but that's a byproduct of their alterations.

    I wonder if this will cause keys to drop back to 2 1/2 refined each. Hah, ha ha ha. No.

      I dunno, valve could easily just increase the drop rate so people feel less of a need to idle.

        For sure, but they probably have a sweet spot - enough for you to slowly build up metal to craft/trade but not enough so often it's quicker & easier to buy keys/hats from the MannCo Store.

        I know in the past they never cared about idlers using text mode, but since they introduced the Steam Market, a few farmers have had all their accounts banned for selling trading cards and the like on there. It seems in an effort to stop that, they've deliberately or accidentally stopped everyone else doing it.

        Oh well, for a free game still being updated 6 years after release, I can't complain too much.

        Unfortunately, this would only encourage more idling. Get more drops from playing, get even MORE drops from idling!

    Give it a week, someone will work out a script to solve it. :P

    I can't help but feel the Misplaced Item thing will get in the way of some legitimate drops...

      Maybe only in a CTD situation and even then the item will probably re-drop when the game is restarted if my memory of the algorithm is correct. I see the 'Map Change' situation covering basically every normal exit case from change of server to quitting the game, move the items over whenever the map is unloaded.

    So glad. This should have been done a while ago. There are people, a good portion who aren't gamers, that are hoarding nothing but metal in their backpack done with the smell of idling. Because of this, the deflated value of metal has made it hard for everyone else who receive item drops through intended means rather than through exploits in the system. Just look at the Mann crate key market...what is it going to be? 7 Refined metal for a key? 20? Ridiculous.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now