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.
That's it. This is a huge update both in terms of content, and in terms of a monumental change in the game's philosophy. I interviewed the lead designer of Team Fortress 2, Robin Walker, about why they're selling in-game items for real money - and to tell us more about the specifics.
Since we found out about this at PC Gamer, the office has erupted into... lively 'debate' about whether it's a good thing. Half the office think it's a disaster, the other half are fine with it. Tim's tapping out a post behind me right now explaining his problems with the system, whereas I'm not convinced it's going to ruin my experience.
What could be a problem, for me, is if the free routes to getting the new weapons aren't quick enough. Drop rates have never been kind to me - no hats in 280 hours of play is starting to feel like some kind of vendetta - so I don't trust them to give me a dozen new weapons in short order. It all comes down to what you need to craft them, or whether anyone will swap for my endless duplicate jars of urine.
I'm not saying I'll never buy an item - I'll probably get that saucepan hat I always wanted for my Soldier. But if I start to feel like the only viable way to get the next thing I want to play around with is to pay for it, this'll be a big drop in my enthusiasm for TF2.
Dueling people for it, though - that I'm up for.
Tell us what you think of the system in the comments. I don't think it's going to be a popular decision, but we'd love to hear exactly what you think and why. And if you've got stuff to trade, or stuff you want, head over to our forums and post in the TF2 trading thread I'm about to make there. There's an official FAQ on the Team Fortress site