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Team Fortress 2 Is Not Dying, It Is Being Intentionally Killed

The TF2 community plans to raise hell to save it

I love Team Fortress 2. The game represents a very specific time in my life – a time where suddenly I had enough stability and income in my life that I could upgrade the concept of gaming from a “wistful dream” to a proper interest. My home PC was no longer a cobbled together collection of budget parts, my monitor wasn’t a rescue from the local school and my personal internet connection actually could send and receive data in a reasonable amount of time. You better believe, it was gamer time.

And the title that best encapsulates that era was Team Fortress 2. A time before matchmaking, when joining a server meant recognising many of the names on the leaderboard – a field of dreams where lifelong friendships truly flourished.

And while I eventually moved on to an even wider gamut of gaming goodness (and started writing words about it also) I never forgot those goofy mercenaries and their antics. And nor did many others, because all these years later the game is far from dead – even as we speak, 87,971 ‘people’ are currently playing the 2007 banger.

But, it’s hard work to enjoy the game nowadays – not in any traditional sense, such as difficulty to find a game or the slow rot that comes from old software trying to work with modern hardware. Rather it’s far more insidious – and just a little weird. You see, there is a massive bot problem in TF2. And it isn’t hyperbole, it is staggeringly vast. You can join ten games in a row – all unique lobbies – and you are quite likely to encounter at least nine of them are essentially full of bots. And these bots are all packing aim-hacks, allowing them to lock in the Sniper class and one-shot any poor sap that enters their line of sight. A shitty enough situation, but then they also mic spam all manner of dreadful filth – be it distorted music or genuine hate speech.

This has been happening for a long while. An absurdly long while. So much so that amongst a handful of attempted fixes, Valve made mention that they are aware of the issue and taking steps to sort it out.

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That was back in 2022.

So, the dedicated legends of the vast and voracious TF2 community are once again banding together to do what they do best – and that is spotlight the immensely awful experience that is playing this beloved game nowadays, by whatever platform they call home, and try and raise enough hell to rouse Valve from their endless slumber and maybe give some indication on what they plan to do – if anything:

On June 3rd, we’re all going to collectively group together to take a stand against Valve’s inaction in dealing with the bots. We’re going to showcase the absolute magnitude of this issue to the online masses. Screenshots, videos, and personal stories surrounding the bots in action, all accompanied by the tag #FixTF2. Alongside this is our petition, which will serve to represent the sheer enormity of how many players Valve’s inaction has negatively affected.

A website has been erected at save.tf to go over the battle plan, and it includes a petition to put some names on the board as to how many people still care about the game.

The mission statement is clear – this isn’t about any kind of drastic improvement to the game’s existing systems. This isn’t asking for more content, or for free stuff. This is simply asking for Valve to dedicate some time to solving this odd third-party war against the existing community:

Team Fortress 2 is a game that has stood the test of time for almost 17 years. It’s still beloved by millions as one of the greatest video games of all time. This makes it all the more shameful that Valve has refused to take substantive measures to eliminate this botting crisis.

It is wholly unacceptable to let such a beloved IP get ravaged by nefarious actors intent on destroying the game adored by so many.

TF2 doesn’t need new content updates, it doesn’t need new microtransactions, it doesn’t need new weapon additions. What TF2 needs is a solution to the bot crisis.

It’s impressive that a game can keep a community for as long as Team Fortress 2 has. It’s even more astounding that it seems to have continued almost entirely from a community-driven love for what the game represents – because while Valve did offer updates for the game quite regularly back in the day, they did eventually dry up – but people kept playing.

I too eventually returned to the game out of wistful nostalgia, remembering the fun I had and realising it was still (apparently) alive and well. I blitzed through the Steam download and entered the game – and the footage below is genuinely the first thing that I came across upon entering a match:

At first I was amused by the silliness of it all, before I realised it was rampant. I revisited community hubs of TF2 discussion to see that the goofy and fun attitude that many had for the game was instead replaced with deep concern and frustration. The greatest example of a game healthily persisting on its own was being threatened by bad actors that just wanted to piss on the parade. It was baffling.

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Through my time researching, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what the driving cause of the bot epidemic was. Sometimes the bots would be set up with names that represent prominent TF2 community members, with AI-synthesised speech mic spamming racial slurs and trying to discredit that individual. Sometimes they would spam links and information for some kind of bot-blocking tool, a scam to try and steal money or compromise machines. In almost every case, the aimbotting snipers would spam things into the game chat after getting a kill to try and incite anger and arguments. It was such an oddly hateful operation being run.

And the people who have poured hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into this game have had enough – prompting this #fixtf2 movement across the web.

As of a few hours ago, the petition has received around 24,000 signatures – early numbers given that the seeds of this project are barely in the ground and we are still in May.

So, if you are reading this and likely have a similar fond memory of endless 2Fort matches and Dustbowl shenanigans, perhaps consider heading over to save.tf and maybe have a read of their intention. Maybe sling your name onto the petition. But, most of all, if you are similarly bothered by the current state of the game maybe consider sharing the details of this effort to people whom you trust enjoyed the game and would love to see it persist – because in the dramatic and true words of the save.tf website: TF2 is not dying, it is being intentionally killed.

Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games

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