Team Fortress 2 modders make a fortune

Tom Senior at

Aw, now I want there to be tanks.

Valve's recent Mann-conomy update for Team Fortress 2 added a crate-full of user made items and weapons to the game, along with the ability for players to buy those items. We're divided on whether that's a good thing or not, but 25% of the money earned from every sale goes to the modders who created the item. Now we know how much those modellers and artists have made so far, and holy moly, it's a lot.

The five Polycount Pack creators earned between $39,000 and $47,000 in the first two weeks of the items going on sale. Shaylyn Hamm, Shawn Spetch, Steven Skidmore, Spencer Kern and Rob Laro were due to receive payment via Paypal, but for two of them the amount was so high that the payments ran into Paypal's transfer restrictions. Valve solved the problem by flying Kern and Skidmore to their headquarters in Kirkland, Washington to pay them in person.

Kern had this to say about the deal: "It's astounding that so many people want to purchase the items that came out of the community. The response exceeded my wildest expectations. There really is no doubt at this point that there's a huge demand for community-created content in TF2 and, hopefully, more games will start to tap into this demand."

Speaking to Gamasutra about the success of the introduction of the Mann Co. Store, Gabe Newell said "It benefits us because it grows the community, right? These [content creators] benefit, but we benefit too. Team Fortress 2 is a better product because we have community contributions in it. They're going to go off and listen to what the community says about how they can do that better, and we can draft along, as we both benefit."

Creators of older community items for Team Fortress 2 haven't been forgotten, either, they'll be paid for their contributions at some point in the future. Looking forwards, Valve say that their plan is to get the community involved with other aspects of the game as well, the ultimate aim being to let map makers, animators, custom UI creators and guide makers sell their wares through TF2. Before any of that comes into play, Team Fortress 2 creator Robin Walker told us that we can look forward to more Polycount items, which will be released with the next update, along with a brand new game mode.

For an insight into the thinking behind the introduction of the Mann-conomy, check out our other interview with Robin Walker. If you fancy submitting your own items to Valve, check out the official TF2 contributor site.