Community Spotlight

The Half-Life Saga Story Guide

By Chan Karunamuni

In Less Than Two Days, 9 Of Team Fortress 2′s Oldest Hats Will Be Permanently Retired

News & Rumors Team Fortress

Way back in May of 2009, Valve introduced Team Fortress players to the Sniper vs. Spy Update, which at the time was TF2′s most ambitious game update yet – providing both the Sniper and Spy classes with three significant new weapons each, as well as several new maps, alongside a brand new gamemode. But this update brought us something else, something which would leave a lasting impact not only on TF2 itself, but on all of Valve’s future work, as a whole… hats.

Yes, the Sniper vs. Spy Update was when TF2 got its 9 first rare cosmetic headgear items – one for each playable class. Since then, Valve (alongside numerous item designers from the Team Fortress community) have added 259 more hats to TF2- and so, by now, most people have forgotten about those 9 original hats… which makes it all the more interesting that Valve has actually decided to permanently retire them from the game’s item circuit.

In Less Than Two Days, 9 Of Team Fortress 2′s Oldest Hats Will Be Permanently Retired

According to a recent post by “Saxton Hale“, on the official TF2 blog, an incident at the Mann Co. hat warehouses involving a lot of spoiled condiments and live raccoons have resulted in the utter annihilation of the stocks and stores of 9 varieties of Mann Co. hats:

  • The Batter’s Helmet
  • The Soldier’s Stash
  • The Pyro’s Beanie
  • The Demoman’s Fro
  • The Football Helmet
  • The Mining Light
  • The Prussian Pickelhaube
  • The Trophy Belt
  • And, last but not least: the Fancy Fedora.

There was also something about raccoon rabies being transmissible through hats, but I stopped reading once I realized they might also be transmissible through blog posts. But let’s set humorous in-universe set-ups aside for a moment – Team Fortress’ first 9 hats will be permanently “retired” in just 2 days, on the 24th of January. Here’s the brief item retirement FAQ, included with the same blog post:

Q: What is happening to this set of nine hats in two weeks?
A: These items will no longer be sold in the store, randomly dropped, unboxed as unusuals, or acquired through crafting.

Q: What happens to copies of these items that are already in my backpack?
A: All existing copies of the items will remain unaffected.

Q: What about older crates that have these items as a potential drop?
A: Crates that contain these items will still have a chance at unboxing them in normal quality only.

Q: How will I now acquire these items?
A: These items are still useable in trading.

Q: Will these items ever come out of retirement?
A: No. Once an item is retired it will stay that way.

Q: Will more items be retired in the future?
A: Advance notice will be given if any other items will be retired.

And there you have it! It’s definitely a very intriguing move for Valve, and I do believe it may serve as some sort of radical new experiment in in-game economics for them. Think of it this way: with these 9 hats so close to retirement, a large number of players will be interested in acquiring them – through Steam trading, as well as from the official Mann Co. Store (and it’ll be even more interesting to see how the situation changes after these hats have been discontinued, and how demand will change in the near future). And since Steam tracks and logs all that activity, that means Valve is going to get a huge amount of really useful data.

Not only will Valve be getting raw, incredibly valuable feedback on how their own customers perceive the values of in-game digital items through limited time offers; but they’ll also be making quite a few monies purely from Mann Co. Store sales of these 9 hats. It’s a really great way of performing such an experiment, for sure – and it’s being done on hats that aren’t really that important, valuable, or shiny anymore, which is good (again, they’re nearly 4 years old by this point).

Besides, there may be an overabundance of cosmetics within the TF2 item circuit (it can be very hard to get what you want through drops or crafting), and Valve may be approaching a point where this could start having negative repercussions on the way that in-game economy works. Item retirements are certainly an interesting way of clearing out some of the older inventory, while also attempting to provide that older inventory with newfound value and significance.

In any case, I’m definitely interested in seeing what Valve does after this. Personally, I’m open to further item retirements, just as long as they’re handled reasonably, limited to older items, and occur infrequently – there shouldn’t be a point where the number of items being retired from the game is greater than the number of items being introduced into the game.

But it’s certainly a great time to get involved in this vast in-game economy, with the in-beta Steam Community Market starting to really take off (just earlier this month, Valve introduced Genuine-quality items and Festive items to the Market; and they also removed uncraftability limitations on all in-game items bought from the Mann Co. Store, a few months ago). And I’m sure Valve has much more in store for us in 2013!

21 Comments

  1. I KNEW IT – hahaha – I knew it…

    Vic, how soon till we get a write-up on the new Half-Life/Portal/Valve/Bad Robot movie/game film extravaganza?

  2. Why are there so many articles about this news story and why do people care?

    It’s almost sickening actually — Valve is just playing the TF2 community like the monkeys they are. They make this big over-hyped announcement about discontinuning these stupid hats, then sit back and watch the sales increase in the MannCo store as every “TF2 Crazy Person” goes on a buying spree for either resale or collection.

    Now you would argue that I shouldn’t talk… since I collect video games I don’t play… but I actually think there is value in these games I collect — either historical value, or enjoyment value. Do hat collectors really think hats add some sorta value? And I’m not talking about the people who buy hats to later sell for games… because those people are just playing off the retards in TF2. I’m talking about the people who actually collect the hats.

    I guess the hats can be thought of currency… where they are just constantly in circulation and never stagnant.

    Again though, this is just another Valve cash grab disguised as some “valuable feedback research bullshit” which makes me ashamed to be a Valve fan…

    I’m not interested in seeing what Valve does after this… I’m down right frightened.

    • Dude i totally agree with you!
      also, im just so pissed that valve does nothin else other than creating hats, and other gibberish for TF2
      TF2 did not make valve what it is today, dont forget HL, Portal and L4D, i feel they are so left behind :C

      • I agree as well. We want gameplay balances, not your shitty HATS!

      • HL, Portal, and L4D – left behind? How, when the ongoing development of Half-Life 3 is the gaming industry’s greatest “open secret”? How, when Portal 2′s Perpetual Testing Initiative (released just last year) has given the game self-sufficiency and highly open modding support? And how on earth has L4D been left behind when Valve literally just released Steam Workshop support for Left 4 Dead 2?

        • I agree with Vic, I don’t think the other IPs have been left behind. I’m just not thrilled with what TF2 has become.

          • All that TF2 has become is a free-to-play game, being supported through non-intrusive cosmetics, which are distributed through numerous means (the store is only one, entirely optional way of obtaining them). Judging from your comment above, you seem to believe the TF2 community amounts to nothing more than traders and item collectors (you even call them “monkeys” and “retards”). Not only is this extremely unfair, it’s also completely wrong. That’s what it might remotely sound like from the outside – but if you actually get involved in the community and if you actively play the game, you’ll see that it’s quite far from the truth.
            TF2 is a game, first and foremost. Valve have been adding new game maps, game modes, and even massive new game components and features (see MvM) for years. That’s where the game’s value lies, and the hats are simply a way of building onto that groundwork. They add value, yes (just like achievements and “grinds” add value to any given game), and they add a huge amount of customization potential to TF2. They also allow Valve to actually profit from the game itself, because… surprise: TF2 is a free-to-play game where any new player has completely free access to every single class, map and game mode. Including all weapons and many other items, by the way! So Valve have actually gone above and beyond in offering a reasonable free-to-play experience, with very limited monetization.
            But Valve is not a charity – every week they spend developing new content for TF2 (which, again, represents a lot more than just new hats) has to bring them some sort of return. Would you rather have Valve make players pay for new game modes and maps a-la Call of Duty… instead of having an entirely optional store for entirely optional cosmetic items with reasonable prices?
            Isn’t the former the worst case scenario, after all? And isn’t it something Valve have strived to avoid all throughout TF2′s post-release development? You consider retiring 9 outdated, optional cosmetic items a “cash grab”, when Valve could have resorted to far more dishonorable and gluttonous ways of making a profit?

            • You’re right.

              I just find the whole system of announcing that 9 hats are going to be gone in 2 weeks a little cheap. Like “get them while their hot”, seems to be taking advantage of some people who are prone to buying into this sorta stuff.

              There’s no reason for them to remove 9 hats. Furthermore, there is no reason for them to create a glorified blog post about it either, unless to stir up some press about it so more people buy these 9 hats. Valve knows exactly what their doing and I think it’s crooked.

              Having a game free to play with a store for people to buy cosmetics is one thing, announcing that 9 hats are going to be gone only to know that people are going to rush to buy them is inflating the marking and taking advantage of people is another. It’s sickening.

              • I understand why it may seem more than a little cheap, but let’s consider a few things, first – and let’s understand that Valve had plenty of reasons to do this, besides getting more people buying items. First, those 9 hats are really, really old, and few people are interested in acquiring them anymore. With so many cosmetic items already a part of the random drop and crafting circuits, it can be a bit hard for players to get exactly what they want. Clearing “stock” of the oldest and perhaps least-coveted cosmetics in the game is the first step in streamlining the item circuits for a better experience, free of superfluous and undesired items.
                But removing these items without notifying the playerbase beforehand would not only be unfair, it’d also represent a tragic missed opportunity – huge amounts of raw economic feedback, and reasonable amounts of Store purchases (because, again, Valve was not, is not, and never will be a charity). But this is clearly an experiment first and foremost, and I won’t deny it’s a risky, and perhaps murky experiment. But it is a deeply fascinating one that will allow Valve to better understand their own customers, and hopefully come up with better ways of monetizing their games in the future (because as the Portal 2 Robot Enrichment store has proven, hats are not always the answer). Can you really blame them for wanting to try something new, and wanting to know just how much value players will place on these digital items? It’s certainly preferable to them going in blind farther down the line and failing miserably, leading to a hypothetical economic disaster.
                And let’s not forget that these 9 hats are not Store-exclusive. In fact, these hats are extremely widespread throughout the community (thanks to tons of crafting back in the day), and most players may now be getting them through last minute in-game trades, and not Store transactions. I’m not denying that many other players will buy them from the Store (because they clearly will), but we can’t afford to ignore the alternatives that Valve have left at the average player’s disposal.
                It’s also worth mentioning that Valve are being extremely reasonable about this – they aren’t offering up those 9 hats up within any sort of deal bundle, and they haven’t even been bumped up to the first pages of the Store (while there is an in-game news notification, there is nothing within the Store itself). They have not created any incentives of any kind to push players into buying them from the Store, or to purposely lead players away from obtaining them through free in-game trading.
                Again, I won’t deny that it’s an unprecedented situation, and that it is quite strange, to say the least. But I wouldn’t call it “sickening”, nor “crooked”. It’s just Valve trying out a variety of different things, experimenting with some interesting ideas, gauging the community’s reaction, while simultaneously making a profit. No one will lose sleep over it, and the customers will get exactly what they want to get – and at the end of the day, that’s what makes or breaks an in-game economy.

            • Ha, was about to reply to William’s comment, but your post sums up my thoughts perfectly! :)

    • TF2 as a game is dead.

      • That couldn’t be farther from the truth! TF2 is more alive than ever – both in terms of playerbase, and newly-released content. Just look at Mann vs. Machine, and you’ll see that Valve (to be more precise, its Team Fortress development team) is doing far, far more than “creating hats and other gibberish for TF2″, as KillerManiac claimed above.

        • well im sorry if i offended you in some way man
          to me its nothin more than crap, as i hate TF2, not hate, i just dont really get along with that game

          I think its because somewhere in my mind, i think that game drew the attention from Half Life, leaving it a little behind.

          Also because im a fan boy of HL i admit it :P
          i mean, it was my very first game, back in the old times, i grew up playin it, so, i dont mean to insult TF2 nor none of its players, i just dont give a damn about all its hats, and stuff

          if u know what i mean ;)

          • You didn’t offend me at all, don’t worry! But really, how can Team Fortress 2 draw attention from Half-Life, when they are two completely different games, with very little to do with each other? Especially since TF2 was largely unrelated to any Half-Life game’s development. Besides, just because you aren’t personally interested in the game, doesn’t mean it’s a complete waste of time for Valve, at large!
            Still, I can see why it just doesn’t tickle your fancy – and believe me, I’d gladly take a new singleplayer adventure from Valve (be it Gunman Chronicles 2 or Half-Life 3), over any of their recent multiplayer games, without a second thought! Let’s just hope Half-Life’s big day comes around soon.

            • Well you are completely right, i know TF2 didnt draw the attention from HL or any other valve game at all, but deep down in my head, it did xD
              its just how broken i am :)

              Now there you mentioned a game i havent seen or played for ages! Gunman Chronicles, man, that game was something too, i just wished they kept working on it :(
              but oh well, life aint always a bed of roses :P

        • Empty servers.

      • They were saying that as early as 2006, buddy.

      • It’s the 3rd most played game on Steam as of right now (according to Steam Stats), and it just recently received one of the biggest updates in its history (MvM)… but no, it’s clearly dead.

Leave a reply


Sign in via Steam to skip spam and contact fields.