It really is hard to believe it, but it feels like Team Fortress 2 is dying. The game Valve made so popular when it went free-to-play and has updated consistently over the years to an extremely loyal fanbase might have reached its all time low.
Let me explain why I have that feeling it’s dying. Whenever I log in to play (and yes, I play from time to time; it is a fun, mindless first person-shooter game), it is getting increasingly harder to find a match with some of the filters I have on for Casual. And these filters are not even that extensive. I have 2Fort for one, which is probably the most popular map outside of De_Dust in terms of maps created and played on Valve’s list of games. Other maps include Harvest, which is another popular map. When searching for games, I notice that the “players online” is only roughly 2000 at any given point in time. The people that are waiting to play in a game is shockingly only anywhere around 25-100. Those are very mild numbers. I am unsure if there is some kind of numbers error showing up on my loading screen that displays the wrong number of people on the game, but if they are true, I am quite disappointed in the game. There was a time, maybe in 2012 and the years before that, where Team Fortress 2 was the most popular game, by far, on Steam. DOTA 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have taken the reigns for most popular Valve games, but I was hoping TF2 would still be up there, since it has been a PC classic for as long as I remember.
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One of the reasons for this is most likely the release of another not-so-similar-but-often-compared shooter game, one by the name of Overwatch. Like Team Fortress 2, there are a wide array of classes you can play as. There are snipers, healers, tank-classes, and more agile characters, among all of them. They all have significant personalities as well. In Team Fortress 2, each character comes off as very witty. They even have one of the best video series of all time, at least in the video game department, in the Meet the ____ Series, playlist linked here. In Overwatch, each character banters with one another and makes the interaction with other players lively. The voice acting is some of the best in a multiplayer shooter and the players really don’t feel like cardboard cutouts.
The biggest difference between them is that TF2 is a free-to-play game while Overwatch, developed by Blizzard, although it has seen some price drops, still costs close to retail price, even almost a year after release. This hasn’t seemed to stop people from buying the game in mass numbers. Overwatch was easily one of last year’s best selling games. But why are people flocking the original PC team-based shooter for a shooter that is most available on consoles?
It isn’t necessarily about making one purchase over the other, but it is a time-based thing. People are choosing to play Overwatch instead of Team Fortress, which is leading to a lack of a player base on TF2. This isn’t to say there is absolutely no one playing Valve’s game, but the number is dwindling quite quickly.