Robin Walker

Valve's Robin Walker on six figure item sales and the future of modding

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Craig Pearson at

Following my look at the Steam Workshop’s biggest sellers earlier this week, I got a chance to put some questions to Valve's Robin Walker. He was one of the original developers of Team Fortress, back in 1996, and joined Valve soon after. His work as a modder informed his work at Valve, leading, in a roundabout way, to Team Fortress 2's current use as a platform to pay modders for their in-game work. In this pretty wide-ranging interview, I talk to him about the big numbers the modding scene generates, what makes a good item, virtual ownership, the future of free-to-play and Valve’s evolving relationship with its community.


Team Fortress 2's item economy helped Valve's "long-term survival"

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Omri Petitte at

Team Fortress 2 established itself as some of the best team-based shooting ever, but according to Lead Designer Robin Walker, PC Gaming's premier hat sim was also a test case for Valve's long-term survival. In an interview with Gamasutra, Walker revealed how the game's successful item economy doubled as an exploratory probe into MMO mechanics which Valve felt would factor into its livelihood going forward.


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

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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.


Valve on the future of Team Fortress 2. Part Two

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Tom Francis at

Team Fortress 2 has updated all nine of its classes now, so everyone’s curious about the future of the game. I posted myself to Mann. Co headquarters in the hope of wrestling Saxton Hale for answers, but when I arrived I found only project lead Robin Walker, in his throne room at Valve. Disappointed, I clambered out of my box and interviewed him nevertheless.

He talked about where TF2 can go from here, how many people are still working on it, what they plan to include in the next update, why unlocks work the way they do, why they might start a new TF2 beta, and what the point of hats is. Accordingly, the interview is long. This is part two, part one is here.


Interview: Valve on the future of Team Fortress 2

16 Comments
Tom Francis at

Team Fortress 2 has updated all nine of its classes now, so everyone’s curious about the future of the game. I posted myself to Mann. Co headquarters in the hope of wrestling Saxton Hale for answers, but when I arrived I found only project lead Robin Walker, in his throne room at Valve. Disappointed, I clambered out of my box and interviewed him nevertheless.

He talked about where Team Fortress 2 can go from here, how many people are still working on it, what they plan to include in the next update, why unlocks work the way they do, why they might start a new TF2 beta, and what the point of hats is. Accordingly, the interview is long. This is part one - part two is here.

Join the PC Gamer Steam Community

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PC Gamer at



Ever wanted to get stabbed by a News Editor? The PC Gamer Steam Community group is over 31,000 strong, and it's only getting stronger. We have a well-policed TF2 server that's creaking with players, a chat channel bristling with cheerful gamers who'd just love to kill you, and a forum where you can organise games in advance and recount your victories, defeats, and the time Robin Walker popped by to kill everyone with his rapid-fire magical rocket launcher.