Team Fortress 2 plummets to 'Overwhelmingly Negative' on Steam as its biggest fans stoke the righteous flames of anti-bot outrage

Team Fortress 2 Engineer avatar
(Image credit: Valve)
Recent updates

June 6, 2024: Team Fortress 2 now has "Overwhelmingly Negative" recent reviews on Steam, with only 16% of user reviews in the past 30 days (34,419 total) being positive. While overall reviews are still "Very Positive", TF2 has accrued over 1 million reviews in the past 17 years on the platform, making it a hard needle to shift. Original story follows:

I wrote yesterday about the #SaveTF2 movement's latest campaign, mobilizing once again to pressure Valve into action against Team Fortress 2's rampant bot problem. The latest operation is a two-pronged approach: an online petition—which has been signed and emailed to Valve over 200,000 times—and a public awareness campaign using the #FixTF2 hashtag to show just how rotten with bots TF2 has become. Well, the public certainly seems aware, and on Steam, that awareness is taking a very public form:

(Image credit: Valve)

TF2's recent review rating has plummeted to Mostly Negative thanks to a review-bombing surge that, judging from the graph, started hitting just as the #FixTF2 campaign spun up on June 3. The influx of negative reviews is so huge—more than 14,000 have hit in the last 24 hours—that it's warped the scale of the chart, rendering any positive sentiment for the game into barely noticeable blue nubs.

Looking at TF2's overall review history, there's never been a window where players have left anywhere near this many negative reviews. If you gingerly mouse over the individual months on the graph, you'll find that not even in 2022—when #SaveTF2 first emerged—was there a period where TF2 received even a tenth as many negative reviews as players have left over the last day.

I might've assumed a healthy number of those reviews were left by players who saw the #FixTF2 posts and wanted to jump on the outrage bandwagon for a laugh, even if they don't have much attachment to the game. But from what I can see by browsing recent reviews, the vast majority are being left by people with dozens of hours of playtime in TF2, if not hundreds, or even thousands. Maybe I should've known better. I mean, it's Team Fortress 2. It's basically an institution.

Valve hasn't yet responded to the latest wave of demands for anti-bot measures. Funnily enough, the Team Fortress 2 official Twitter account hasn't tweeted since it acknowledged the last widespread outcry in 2022. If nothing else, the review-bombing leaves a pretty glaring mark. Based on what I can glean from Steam review graphs, Team Fortress 2 has a new claim to fame: It's the only Valve game to ever drop below a Mixed rating for recent reviews.

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.