Team Fortress 2 was released as part of the orange box on October 10th 2007, about 2 and a half years ago. Since then the PC has been constantly updated with new tweaks and features, with a promise that it will eventually reach the 360. Because of a lack of news or communication though, many people are doubting that the update will ever happen. Let me show you why I think that we will
get it eventually, or at least some news.
According to the tf2wiki, the xbox has recieved 4 title updates since its release-
Of course compared to the PC patches this isn't much at all, but for a console game I don't think its that bad. According to wikia Halo 3 has only recieved two title updates, granted they were quite large and its not as in need for bug fixes, but its still relevant. I don't think COD4 has had that many patches either. These are two of the xbox's biggest series, thats just how console updates work. Obviously this works in the PCs favor as steam allows valve to update games as regularly as they want, but for the xbox, the latest patch being nearly two years after release this is still an encouraging commitment to the game. The last changes they made were about 9th months ago. I don't find this too discouraging, about 15 months passed between the 3rd and 4th updates.
Now lets takes a look at the TF2 blog, since it started in June 2008 it is about 6 pages long, and the xbox has been mentioned twice that I can find-
- December 10th 2008
We are actively working on a massive XBox 360 update, which will include pretty much everything we've shipped on the PC in the last year. We'll provide you with a rough date when we have one.
- April 2nd 2009
The most substantial piece of news so far about the xbox update, it tells us they they are still actively working on the update, but they have had some trouble and its taking them longer than expected. It seems that part of the reason for the delay is trouble with the xbox's RAM, which I believe is about half a GB. I don't know much about this, but i don't think maps and gametypes are the problem, but things like new weapons, animations, and voicelines etc. A lot of these animations and voicelines will be unessary and could be skipped, and in addition to their 'nifty ways' to get back some memory, I think they can manage it.
The XBox 360 update is still being worked on. If you're wondering what's taking so long, since the content is "done" on the PC already, it's mostly been around fitting it all onto the XBox. The original version of TF2 in the Orange Box was very close to the XBox's memory limit, and all the additional TF2 content we've produced has pushed well beyond it. We've found a couple of nifty ways to get back a bunch of that memory, but it's turned out to be a lot of work, and that's what most of our time is being spent on. In the meantime, we're going to get a code update out to address the server cheating that's going on.
Note how it doesn't say it'll be released soon, or that they're nearly done, its obviously a lot more work than they expected. This was about a year ago, but it still shows their commitment, why would they do all this work to simply forget about it? They have a lot of work to be doing, with the pc updates etc, the memory troubles, and probably some further delays and problems since then, so a year is not as long as you might think.
Now lets take a look at the media-
- Doug Lombardi interview May 21st 2008
Originally Posted by shacknews
"We're looking at bringing the Goldrush and the new achievements and stuff out to the 360.
How and when is still sort of being determined, on pricing and that kind of stuff. On the PC it's sort of wide open, you can release stuff whenever you want. On the console there's a little bit more of a pathway. What we've been waiting for is until we had a critical mass of new content to put out," Lombardi added. "So we feel like we're kind of there now. We'll probably be making some announcements pretty soon on what will happen with the 360 stuff."
- Speculation at the time of the heavy upadate
Valve May Consider Releasing Old Titles on XBLA July 29th 2008
Gabe Newell interview August 21st 2008
Originally Posted by vg247
The big concern I have right now is our ability to provide updates. On the PC side, we’ve done as many as four updates in a day, and that’s great: we can respond very quickly...we can do the Pyro updates, and the Medic updates [and so on]. On the consoles, they want us to charge money for them, because that’s in their model, and our model is very much more to grow the community by giving out free updates. That’s harder for us.
And then on the consoles they have pretty lengthy certification periods
Team Fortress 2 updates coming to xbox 360 later this year August 22nd 2008
Originally Posted by kotaku
Owners of the Xbox 360 version of Team Fortress 2 will be scarfing down sandviches and delivering payloads later this year, as Valve is finally bringing all the updates delivered via Steam to the Xbox Live Marketplace. That means new, class-specific Achievements, new unlockable weapons for the Pyro, Medic and Heavy, new gameplay modes and new maps, all on your Xbox 360. Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi...saying that the developer wanted to build up a massive update for Xbox 360 users before delivering. Given that Valve is being forced to charge for the update, they wanted to ensure that 360 owners were getting their money's worth.
- Gabe Newell interview June 10th 2009
Originally Posted by g4
G4: Because the console infrastructure, especially on the Microsoft side, is so tight, are you going to be able bring those sort of things with weapons, trading and things like that?
Newell: That’s why we really want to talk to Microsoft because to the degree to which we’re sort of leading that, it’s going to be the same issue for...any games that are going through this transition between entertainment as a product, and this thing that’s defined by stuff you put in the box, and entertainment as a service. This isn’t about not paying Microsoft the money that they deserve for establishing a platform, it’s about them enhancing their platform in a way that allows us to create more value for customers over time. And that’s the conversation we’re having with them. if you’re a Team Fortress 2 customer on the PC, you’re getting one kind of experience, and if you’re on the Xbox, you’re like okay…when’s it coming? We really want to get it to you and we need to. We’d like to come up with a more permanent solution
- Robin Walker interview January 10th 2010
So valve said 'soon' and 'when its done', and a couple of years later apparently its still not 'done'. Well, thats valve for you. They've always been like that, like the 6 years or so it took to release hl2, about a year and a half after it was unveiled at e3. And team fortress 2 itself was teased a few times before being completely unheard of for about 5 years, and how episode 3 was supposed to appear in e3 2008, but probably wont even be in e3 2010 now. valve have a history of missing deadlines, which is why more recently they havent set themselves any. consoles are a fairly new market for valve, which it seems it is unfamiliar with, console gamers are irrated by a complete lack of news or communication which is normal for valve, and valve doesn't understand this doesnt work for the console.
Other Valve quotes
Finally lets have a look at some quotes from various valve members-
- Robin Walker March 17th 2009 (inbetween scout and sniper/spy update)
An encouraging reasurance, confirms what will be included in the update (or what they were planning to at the time). Also states achievements wouldn't be included (it was previously said they would be), which is understandable. This dismisses a common concern that microsoft won't allow it because of the achievements. I still think though that theres a possibility of in-game achievements, that don't contribute to gamerscore.
We’re working on the Xbox update. It includes everything we’ve released on the PC in the last year, except for the new achievements. Microsoft doesn’t support having more than 100 achievements per title, and the Orange Box is at that limit already. On the bright side, you’ll be getting a bunch of new maps, game modes, weapons, and miscellaneous features.
- Doug Lombardi July 3rd 2009
Another encouraging confirmation that the update is coming. Yes obviously its gone 'before the end of the year', but 'hopefully' means 'probably not' in valve terms. It does however say that there should be news, not an update, but news. So the update is obviously taking longer than expected, and he doesn't think that it'll be released untill 2010. Very encouraging.
Speaking to OXM at yesterday's Left 4 Dead 2 event, Valve's Doug Lombardi confirmed that the company is still working on Team Fortress 2 content for Xbox 360 and will have "something to announce" before the end of the year.
As we do whenever we see Valve, we trotted out the timeworn enquiry What About Bringing Those Team Fortress 2 PC Updates to Xbox 360. Valve's publically stated that this is on the cards, but this time it was more vague.
"Yeah, we don't have a timeline on it yet," said Lombardi. "But there's going to be some news regarding TF2 and 360 hopefully before the end of the year. So stay tuned for that."
- Robin Walker July 7th 2009
One of the most recent pieces of news I've found, just nine months ago. Seems to suggest that Microsoft is still part of the problem, I don't think its too discouraging though, and it certainly still gives the impression that the update is coming. Also seems to reject the idea of a standalone disk that so many people have suggested, as valve are beginning to treat games like continuous services, rather than a packaged product. A standalone game wouldn't change this. It might however provide a larger financial benefit.
We've got a title update about to enter cert that fixes the various hacks/exploits/cheats. It also adds a few of the options we've had the most requests for (critical hit toggling, random damage spread toggling, and class limits).
After that, unfortunately we're still in the midst of a technical & political exchange with Microsoft. The way we have developed TF2 since release, and the way we want to continue developing it in the future, is fundamentally not supported by the XBox DLC model. We're trying to find a way to work with Microsoft to solve that.
A standalone disc would be one of the bandaid fixes that Gabe refers to later in the interview. It won't help us do ongoing development on XBox TF2 like we do on the PC, and that's our ultimate goal.
- Gabe Newell March 10th 2010
This one in particular seems to have depressed the 360 community, who have taken it to mean that there wont be an update. But I'm fairly sure this is not what he is saying. He's simply saying that to have regular updates like the 100s the pc has had would be practically impossible, which is true really. To release every patch on the 360 probably would cost a large amount, which is why they're not doing that, like they've already said. This is old news, they've said they're being forced to charge by microsoft, so they're waiting untill they have a fair emount of content to justify the price tag.
Steam lets the company take full advantage of the freedom that the PC and Mac platforms give it to constantly update and tweak its games. For instance, the developer has updated its 2007 game Team Fortress 2 more than 100 times, Newell said. "This wouldn’t be possible on a closed system like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, he said: “Microsoft’s QA fees … would be several hundred thousand dollars to do the updates that we did to Team Fortress 2. And that ignores the fact that the cycle on these closed platforms would have taken years to get all these updates through.”
Despite what people might think valve do apparantly reply to emails about the xbox, with some being suprisingly recent. Not that they have any news about an update or answers to important questions, but it does at least mean that the xbox community isn't completely ignored- they havent forgotten about us.
All but one class have been updated on the Pc-
- April 29th 2008 (aka Goldrush update), Pyro
- June 19th 2008 (2 months later), Heavy
- August 19th 2008 (3 months later) (It was around this time it was rumoured in the media that the xbox update would soon be announced), Scout
- February 24th 2009 (5 months later)(Valve claim to be 'actively working on' the update), Sniper & Spy
- May 21th 2009 (3 months later)(This was the most recent time the xbox udpate was mentioned, and that they were working on it, but not that it would be ready soon), Soldier & Demoman
- December 17th 2009 (7 months later, with 'Classless'
Nearly 4 months later and that leaves the engineer, which will presumably be released fairly soon, although Robin has said there are multiple updates in the works and at least one will be released before the engie.
They probably planned to release an update sometime around the Heavy upadte, but changed their minds, which is not unusual for valve. They most recently mentioned the xbox udpate at the time of the sniper/spy update, the 5th and 6th classes to be updated. Surely this means they are now planning to release the update after all classes have been updated, and as usual its taking them longer than expected. They said way back in the medic update in April 08, "This update will also mark the beginning of the most significant change we'll be making to Team Fortress 2 over the next year". So its taking them at least twice as long as they thought it would. Why would they release an update for 6 of the 9 classes? If they are to release an update, it would make most sense to release it with all class updates.
So to summarise here are my answers to the common concerns, and why i think it had been delayed so much.
"Valve is a PC game developer, the PC is their priority."
Yes the PC probably is valve's priority. But that doesn't mean that they will forget us, or that they tried the console market with the orange box and it didn't work. It did work, it sold millions. They're going to fully utilise the console market, and they'd be foolish not to. They've said future games will be released for PC, Mac, and Xbox 360 (eg. Portal 2). Look at the success they've had with L4D2, valve are aware of the potential of the console market, and they aren't so stupid to ignore it.
"Microsoft won't allow it because of the achievements."
Like I said, achievements won't be included so it doesn't matter.
"The xbox can't handle all the additions to TF2."
Yes the xbox's RAM isn't brilliant, but I'm sure valve can figure something out. And I don't think its necessary to bring everything
from the pc to the xbox, certain animations & voice lines for example. I'm not too bothered about the random drop & crafting systems either.
"Get a PC, you can't experience the game properly with an xbox anyway."
Constantly said by certain bitter aggressive, socially awkward PC gamers with a superiority complex. Barely worth answering. You could say the same thing about the PC. I could give you a list of why people want to play it on the 360, but I'll simplify it to money, preferance of controls, consistancy, simplicity, convenience of sitting on a sofa in your living room, rather than hunched over a desk in your parents garage, social reasons that the xbox brings, and the fact that they've already bought the exact same product but apparantly its on the "wrong" platform.
"The TF2 community is too small."
I'm not sure of the actual figures, but TF2 does still have a fairly large and dedicated community. The Orange Box itself was a bestseller, so its safe to assume many people still have it. This added to the large amount of people who would return to or purchase TF2 when the updates are released, would likely give it quite a large community, and would be a suitable financial insentive. The immense popularity of the PC TF2 proves this.
Reasons for the delay
4. Poor judgement and communication
- I'll admit this is partly at least valves fault. It's taking them a lot longer than expected, and poor communication with their community has made people pessimistic and wonder if they have been forgotten about.
3. Developments and delays
- The class updates have obviously turned out to be a much bigger job than valve originally thought, and such things as the xbox's memory have probably delayed matters a great deal.
2. Microsoft & console constraints
- I probably haven't been fair to valve when I've said its not microsofts fault, it obviously is causing them a fair amount of difficulty. Microsoft are the ones forcing them to charge in the first place, meaning valve are waiting untill they have a good amount of content. The process and costs of releasing an update on xbl is also more difficult and will have delayed things, far more than the simplicity of updating through steam.
1. It's Valve
- The bottom line is this is valve we're talking about, they have a history of being very quiet and missing deadlines. The PC community has grown used to this over the years, but the console market obviously hasn't yet.
So i expect to hear some news about it after the engie update has been released. I'm not going to deny though thats its been a year since we've heard anything, so I'm not absolutely sure it'll be good news. I'm just saying theres no reason to give up hope just yet. They will tell us about it at some point.