The Return Of TF2 Classic and Open Fortress Doesn’t Bode Well for #SaveTF2


The popular Team Fortress 2 mods TF2 Classic and Open Fortress went down last September, with their developers stating that they were working on a ‘mutually beneficial agreement’ with Valve so that they could continue existing while Valve protected its IP (the mods are based on a source leak of Team Fortress 2, which creates an IP headache for Valve). After months of radio silence, both have returned, citing Valve’s typical “lack of communication” as the reason. How does this bode for the future of the franchise as a whole, and what does that mean for Valve going against decades of supporting and hiring modders that have helped make them a 7.7 billion dollar company?


Team Fortress 2 has been a hit since its initial release alongside the Orange Box in 2007. For about 10 years, the online shooter has had semi-regular updates that kept the new players coming, especially since going free to play in June of 2011.

But in recent years updates for the game has whittled down to almost nothing (Over four-and-a-half years since the last major update). Bot accounts and hackers have been ruining the casual lobby experience for the game for some time. After years of complaints, fans of the game rallied for the #SaveTF2 movement on Twitter and other various social media platforms. The outcry generated a rare, but typically default statement, by Valve through the game’s official Twitter account. 

“TF2 community, we hear you! We love this game and know you do, too. We see how large this issue has become and are working to improve things”.

In September 2021, both Team Fortress 2 Classic and Open Fortress, by far the two most popular mods built off of the 2007 shooter, had their download links taken down and went radio silent for months. The respective developers cited an agreement with Valve to take down the mods until they could work on a mutually beneficial agreement before making them public again. 

“Hi all. As of this post, downloads for TF2Classic are temporarily disabled due to an arrangement with Valve. This includes direct downloads to the mod through our website, Discord, and launcher.

This is only temporary for now. We’ll keep you posted for further information.”

On paper this made sense. The code for each game was heavily dependent on a source code leak of a 2008 build of Team Fortress 2 that was made public around mid-2020. While Valve had it in their best interest to protect their intellectual property, they also did not have malicious intentions with requesting the takedown. 

Months of radio silence for both mods led to confusion amongst the communities. During the swell of public interest in the game in the midst of the #SaveTF2 content, the official Twitter for the Team Fortress 2 Classic mod made this statement regarding the return of public downloads.

“Valve made it clear to us that they recognize and appreciate the creativity and motivation of the TF2 community, and were internally discussing the best way to let us express it. They asked us if we were interested in releasing our projects in the form of a mod on Steam, which would have required work from both parties.

We sent them a response confirming that we would suspend downloads, alongside stating that we were very much interested in a Steam release, along with a few questions.

Unfortunately, Valve has not responded to us in any form, despite us trying various ways to contact them”

Valve has a longstanding history with modders within their own company. The very origins of valve can be traced to the original Gold Source engine that the first Half-Life was built on back in 1998. Gold Source was a heavily modded version of the Quake engine. Virtually all of their non-Half-Life properties have some kind of connection to modders or outside parties developing something that Valve then brought into their fold. The original Team Fortress and Counter-Strike were mods for Half-Life. Dota started as a mod for Warcraft III. Even Portal can trace its origins to a student game called ‘Narbacular Drop’ before Valve hired its developers. 

Given their rich history with modders and third parties, it begs the question why Valve seems so averse to working alongside them in the modern day. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that the company’s market evaluation recently projected them at almost 10 billion dollars, and they just don’t need modders like they used to. Valve was forced to lean on modders out of necessity in order to keep the company afloat during the lengthy and expensive development of Half-Life 2 and Steam back in the early 2000s. You have to wonder if Valve ever really cared about modders, or just saw them as a way to fill the gap between major releases? 

It’s not all bad news. On June 21, 2022, Valve released a 1MB patch for Team Fortress 2. This patch offered a stopgap fix for the bot problem by making it easier to call kick votes, have multiple votes going on at the same time, and prevented bots and other users from changing their names in the middle of a casual lobby. Time will tell if Valve has any plans for a long-term solution, but their recent track record makes a revival of content for the series unlikely. 

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