Last week Valve spread some joy in the world. After years of the Team Fortress 2 community pining for new stuff and begging Mr. Newell for scraps like Dickensian urchins, Valve published no less than a blog post to the official Team Fortress 2 site announcing "an update-sized update." Content's back on the menu, boys!
The Team Fortress 2 community's reaction to this was about as sane and measured as a Demoman after a three-week bender: Valve was listening all along, this is what we've been waiting for, the good times are a-coming once more. The only problem was that the announcement didn't quite seem like that to other eyes. In our report Ted Litchfield wrote (opens in new tab) that 'the only catch is that it will all have to be provided by the community: Valve has put out a call for Steam Workshop submissions to be made by May 1 for this "as-yet unnamed, un-themed, but still very exciting summer-situated (but not summer-themed) (unless you want to develop summer-themed stuff) update.'"
That is, it seemed clear Valve was not announcing that it would be making an original new update, but that it was announcing it would pick-and-choose community created content and package it up in an official update. That distinction matters an enormous amount to the TF2 community.
The expectations reached a burning pitch any Pyro would be proud of, to the extent the TF2 dev team has now gone back to the original blogpost and silently edited it to make things crystal clear. It now uses the wording "holiday-sized update" instead of "update-sized update" and has removed the phrase "who knows what else" in its entirety.
Which has all gone down like a cup of cold sick. Perhaps ninja-editing the blogpost wasn't the way to do it, but I do have some sympathy for Valve here, inasmuch as the TF2 community huffs the copium like no other while seeming oblivious to the fact it's playing a game released in 2007 that received major updates from Valve itself until 2017. The studio has maintained this game for 16 years now, free of charge, as well as releasing the tools to really open up it for community creators (opens in new tab).
To put things in perspective, Team Fortress 2's last major update was October 2022's Scream Fortress 14, though that makes the situation sound better than it is: The last non-Scream Fortress update was 2017's Jungle Inferno. The bigger updates since the latter have all been assembled by Valve from Steam Workshop content rather than developed in-house, so it's both unclear why anyone expected different, and also semi-understandable that the tiniest glimmer of hope inspired extreme excitement.
I should also say that, while there are reactions to this news that seem unhinged (opens in new tab), the vast majority of the TF2 community has been there, done that, and got the vintage hats to prove it. The message is despair, in other words, but the tone is humorous and resigned acceptance.
"They are gaslighting us," said DehydratedEpic (opens in new tab). "We've been bamboozled," said problem_bro (opens in new tab). "Remember Heavy vs Pyro [an infamous occasion where Valve promised two class updates but only made one] they will keep doing it until we have lost the basic will to exist," said ThatSandvichIsaSpy01 (opens in new tab) (great name). "They won’t stop, they will continue to take and take from us, there is no end, there is no end, there is no end, there is no end…"
Schmootyf's reaction to the news (opens in new tab) perhaps put it best, the words of a TF2 warrior who's been down this road too many times before: "Every god damn time."