Mann-conomy Update

Valve on how Team Fortress 2 inspired Greenlight: "We hardly make anything anymore"

Owen Hill at

Steam Greenlight was announced last night, detailing a project that will give PC gamers the power to dictate what ends up on Valve's massively successful digital distribution platform. Just over 12 hours later, Valve business development director, Jason Holtman took to the stage at Develop to talk about the roots of the idea. It all started with Team Fortress 2.

Holtman acknowledged that TF2 is "a hat manufacturing game. And that's awesome," but the systems surrounding the hat economy, and Valve's internal development attitudes all contributed to the inception of Steam Greenlight, a practical demonstration of Valve's motto: "anyone can ship anything."

Team Fortress 2 Mann-iversary: one year on from the launch of the Mann Co store

Tom Senior at

It's been a year since Valve announced the launch of the Team Fortress 2 Mann-conomy update, which let players pay money for in-game items like weapons, and of course, hats. Community modellers could submit new weapons, and pick up a share of the profits if their item made it into the game. It was a huge, game-changing update, and its success is likely one of the biggest reasons behind Valve's decision to make Team Fortress 2 free.

So one year on, how has the Mann-conomy changed Team Fortress 2? One thing's obvious. There are quite a lot of hats in TF2 these days. Team Fortress 2's transition into a hat wearing simulator with some added shooting is almost complete, and it's easy to forget now that hats were the most controversial and surprising part of the update. Controversial because of their hefty price tags. Surprising because of the enormous number of players happy to pay up for a smart piece of virtual headwear.

Team Fortress 2 now selling items for real money, massive update just launched

Tom Francis at

The biggest update in Team Fortress 2's history is about to go live, letting players pay real money for in-game items. The Mann-conomy Update adds 17 new community-designed items, and the players who created them will receive a percentage of the takings from their sales. Item trading has also been added, along with item customisation systems for you to rename and recolour your kit. There's a new dueling mini-game, crates of mystery items to be found and unlocked, and special item sets that give you major bonuses for wearing them all at once.

This is huge. And it's probably going to make a lot of people angry. But before you make up your mind, and before you read our full interview with Robin Walker on why they're selling in-game items for real money, here's exactly what's happening and how it works - plus a few shots.

Interview: Valve on why they're selling TF2 items for real money

Tom Francis at

A massive Team Fortress 2 Mann-conomy Update has just added the ability to buy unlockable weapons and items for real money - anything from $0.49 to $4.99. The 17 community-made items the game's just added can still be unlocked for free, but there's no quick or reliable path to do so - unlike the achievement route of previous updates. If you want them soon, you'll have to pay.

TF2 has long been the industry posterchild for ongoing free content: its free updates have added 26 of its 32 maps, 8 of its 10 game modes, and 52 of its 77 weapons. So why start charging now? Team Fortress 2's lead designer Robin Walker offered to answer our questions before the update went up, to help clarify the thinking behind this - the first of three big surprises Valve have planned in the next twelve months.