Valve Software Once Considered Making an MMO, But Made Hats for TF2 Instead
The developers of Team Fortress 2 once considered making an MMO to stay ahead in the gaming market, but settled upon adding hats to TF2 instead.
Valve Software may now consider itself hugely successful with the growth of Steam and the sales of items in both its free-to-play games Team Fortress 2 and DOTA2, but the studio once believed it would have risked putting itself in dire straits without a massively multiplayer online game of its own.
Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, Team Fortress 2 lead designer Robin Walker shared his thoughts on the MMO market and how he, like the rest of Valve, believed that the studio would have collapsed had it failed to have a dominant MMO to compete with other games.
"[When the game shipped], Walker explained, "MMOs were the dominant story in the industry, and one concern we had was that we might not be able to survive if we didn’t build one."
"We were starting to feel the same way about micro-transactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them," he said.
Instead of making an MMO, the studio decided instead on adding a micro-transaction model to its already-popular Team Fortress 2 game by selling vanity items like hats.
"In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we’ve ever built to reduce risk in our company’s future," Walker said, "The thought that if we hadn’t done it, we’d be here today without any data or experience with service based monetization strategies is quite terrifying."