Let's cut straight to the chase here. Team Fortress 2 just put out another huge patch and you can read all about it in their latest posts on the TF2 Blog. There's a brand new Saxton Hale comic and a lot of jokes, but the important part of the update is the inclusion of an all new item shop. In the item shop you can purchase in-game weapons and hats for very real money. You'll still be able to acquire all of these items through normal gameplay, but you also have the option of purchasing them. Prices yet to be determined!
Stepping beyond the idea of a cash shop in Team Fortress 2, let's talk about the actual content being included in the patch: five three or four piece class sets. Each class set includes a hat and an assortment of weapons replacements. Also, get this, but if you wear the entire class set you're receive bonus improvements to your class. For example if you wear all three pieces of the Pyro 'Gas Jockey Gear' you'' move 10% faster, but have 10% more bullet vulnerability.
The bonus though is that these sets were made by the community, rather than Valve. So in an extremely well-thought out marketing move purchasing these new sets via the new Mann Co. Store some of the money will find its way into the hands of the community members that made them.
Here is C.P. Bidwell, fictional assistant to fictional CEO of Mann Co. Saxton Hale, discussing the new additions to Team Fortress 2:
"This brutal, endless war between BLU and RED is, of course, lamentable,"... "So if letting mercenaries buy, trade and sell Mann Co. products helps make this ongoing tragedy more enjoyable for both sides, then we've done our part. The Mann-Conomy initiative is, at the end of the day, a humanitarian effort."
Isn't that a very Valve way of being half-joke/half-serious? Initially selling community created content rather than original Valve content makes it nigh impossible to be angry about the new cash shop. While many TF2 players may find the shop audacious and in direct contradiction to "free and fun" values that are deep-routed in the game, how can you not support your fellow community members?
Valve obviously understood there was the potential for a lot of animosity with this patch and has gone out of their way to add levity to the situation. The new Saxton Hale comic strip, a press release written as if sent out by Mann Co. instead of Valve:
" "Steam", a revolutionary Mann Co. technology developed in cooperation with Newell & Sons (a small Bellevue, WA based company specializing in hat-themed war simulation), utilizes a global network of pneumatic tubes that will allow mercenaries to equip themselves instantly without leaving the heat of battle. Mann Co. is currently accepting Euros, United States Dollars, and British Pounds, as all of these currencies will fit in the tubes."
In all honesty, I see no problem at all with the new cash shop. It will allow those with extra cash to purchase items without making a time investment, sure, but so long as those items are still accessible through non-paying means it's hard to hold a grudge. Also, they've finally added trading into the game -- though you currently can't trade purchased items -- and that means non-paying players will have even greater access to the items they truly want to collect.
While the store currently isn't open, I'll be sure to update with pricing information as soon as it's available.
What do you think, Ranters? Does this change how you look at Team Fortress 2, for better or worse? Would you ever be interested in purchasing a weapon or even a hat? Will you trade me a medic hat? I can't find those damn things anywhere.