Nine months ago, Team Fortress 2 was run over by racist, homophobic, sexist and transphobic robots. They were active in almost every match, and used cheats to secure headshots while spitting hate speech in the chat. The players documented the behavior and shared their frustration with Valve, the developer behind it TF2, but the problem lingered for several months. When the news of the bot invasion hit the media, Valve finally rolled out an update aimed at curbing their activity. The June 2020 update fixed a cosmetic bug that the robots had exploited, removing the possibility of free text chat accounts.
Long time TF2 player Jason Hughes (the name was changed to keep him anonymous in the game) brought the bot situation to me in early June 2020. At the time, he called it “catastrophic.” Today, the description of the situation has changed. He said it was “shit”.
More specifically, Hughes said: “The fines are worse than ever. They may have taken away the robots’ ability to unpack your cosmetic items, and it’s now impossible for free accounts to spam the chat with racist stuff, but casual mode is pretty unplayable now. ”
Hughes was under the impression that the chat restrictions on free accounts would be temporary, but they are still in place today. This removes much of the big talk, but it also means that free account players cannot communicate in the game. And even though most of the robots can no longer chat, they can still make voice calls to actual players and flood battles with coordinated disruption campaigns. In addition, there are still hate speeches from a handful of robots with the ability to emulate names and avatars of real players, and enter chat.
Hughes describes it this way: “It can vary from week to week, but there are times when the majority of players on a server are bots. Even when this is not the case, it often takes a few minutes to remove them all at the beginning of a game. ”
Hughes is not the only one TF2 playing with a steak against bots. The game’s Steam forums are full of players complaining about the invasion, offering potential solutions and wondering if Valve will do something about it. Consensus seems to be “no.”
There is a clear reason for this lack of faith in Valve. The studio has a long history of poor communication with players, and it tends to leave incredibly popular properties without warning and apparently without a plan. Team Fortress 2 has not received steady support for many years now, and Left 4 Dead and the Portal franchise stopped out more than a decade ago. Despite the release of a VR-only Half-Life game in 2020, fans are still waiting Episode 3, almost 14 years after the launch of Episode 2.
Meanwhile, Valve has run Steam, the largest distribution hub for PC games in existence, and focused on non-software aspects of the business, such as VR devices, esports tournaments and anime series. Unfortunately, the company also has problems with transparency in these arenas. Professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players leave the esports scene in droves amid widespread league administration and long-standing communication and gaming problems. The Dota 2 the esports scene is currently a mess in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak in several teams during the season’s first Major tournament in Singapore. On Dota 2 Reddit forum, fans blame Valve’s historic lack of responsibility.
As for Steam, Valve has refused to partner with developers who say the company’s revenue sharing model is exploitative and outdated with modern standards. Valve takes 30 percent of every sale made on Steam, while its main competitor, Epic Games Store, charges developers 12 percent.
So it’s no surprise TF2 players do not have much faith in Valve. They have tried to implement their own solutions to fight robots, but these tend to require input from players and self-moderation, and they can not actually stop the fake accounts from flowing in. Today starts up TF2 means to handle robots.
Hughes and other players just want maintenance TF2. He has some suggestions for Valve, including introducing a trust system as in CS: GO, which makes it impossible to create free accounts galore, update the game’s anti-cheat system and communicate with players. Basic things.
Valve did not respond to a request for comment.
Although the company has a massive TF2 update planned in the near future, which will not change the fact that it has left its most loyal players in the breeze for years. And why? It’s not good customer service, it’s not good for the game itself, it’s not good for Valve’s reputation, and it’s not good for Valve’s bottom line – but it’s not going to bring the company to its knees either. Thanks to the revenue engine that is Steam, Valve remains a multi-billion dollar private company, led by returning billionaire Gabe Newell, and looks for no one. Just as Google is so big in the technology industry that it can create and destroy world-changing products on a whim, Valve is as comfortable in its position as a video game powerhouse. Finally leaving TF2 to die will not kill Valve.
Maybe Valve will re-emerge TF2 one day. Maybe Newell will reveal that there has actually been a team of 50 developers who have been working on a massive overhaul of the game for the past seven years. Maybe there are already plans for one TF2 esports league. Yes maybe. This type of optimistic daydream is Valve’s lifeblood. Maybe Valve will make L4D3, or Episode 3, or Portal 3; maybe Valve starts communicating with CS: GO and Dota 2 society; perhaps Valve will consider the flood of feedback from developers and introduce a fairer revenue sharing model. May be. Valve’s reputation is built on this word.
As an arbitrator in a handful of legendary, genre-defining series, Valve has the power to torment feelings of excitement and anticipation without trial. And in many areas, that’s what Valve has done – not even tried. Just ask TF2 society.