I checked my RSS this morning, and saw — because I am still subscribed to the blog’s feed — this news piece from Team Fortress 2. It’s about the game’s big Halloween festivities. And I thought, wow, I can’t believe I’m still opening blog posts about Team Fortress 2.
This is a game that was first supposed to be out in 1998. For a number of reasons, it didn’t come out until 2007. That was seven years ago.
How many games have come and gone in the past seven years? How many games from 2007 are people still playing in large numbers in 2014? There’s World of Warcraft, and I guess you could say Counter-Strike (even if most folks are playing a newer version), and, um, that’s about it. In the same time as there has been one Team Fortress 2, we’ve had seven Call of Duty games.
There are a number of reasons for the game’s enduring popularity (as of today it’s still the third-most popular game on Steam, as you can see above). Yes, you can joke about hats, but that’s too easy. TF2’s art design is as close to timeless as you’re going to find in this business, which hasn’t just helped its characters look cool despite their advancing years, but more importantly kept the game itself looking good.
Just as important, at least in recent years, has been the game’s price. Initially sold as part of a bundle, then sold on its own, a few years back the game became free. Completely free. The only way you could spend if you even wanted to was on cosmetic trinkets. Like, yes, hats.
It’s also a game that’s kept fresh. Valve doesn’t just keep the servers humming while they’re busy counting money, they still — and regularly — run events and festivals where unique items are introduced, game modes upended and even all-new features brought into the game.
The game’s enduring popularity is something Valve should be proud of. In a world where games are generally released only to die out a few months later, as companies shift focus to a sequel and/or gamers just move onto the next big thing, it’s nice to see both a studio and a fanbase stick with something for the long run.
Just don’t mention the console versions of the game…