Have you ever heard about a concept called “computer game as a service”? I had quite a hard time understanding the concept until I realized that I have been playing such games for more than five years now. I can be wrong, but I believe that this fancy phrase means the fact that most of the games are now updatable, and not a single gaming experience like it was ten years ago.
Back then you paid for a game, and that’s what you had, but now you can pay for a game and download a whole pack of updates six months later, and then buy a DLC, that will show you an ultimately new plot twist, etc. I believe that the main factor that has changed the VR paradigm is the paid content, and I’d like to offer you my musings on a particular and very controversial type of such content – cosmetic items in Team Fortress 2.
Introduction of Team Fortress 2 Items
Hundreds of items users are enjoying now weren’t always there. The release of the game featured only the basic default items, but soon after the developers started issuing content packs and major updates. Major updates, quite naturally, featured grand additions the game content, features, the storyline or character development. They are also often event-related and feature landscapes and items connected with holidays, popular films or major social occurrences. Content packs mean smaller updates that feature new content, usually in the form of promotional material. This type of add-ons also features community-contributed items, submitted via the Steam Workshop by creative users that fancy the game.
Trading Team Fortress 2 Items and Their Impact on Game
Team Fortress 2 is great, and thousands of gamers enjoy playing it, but there have been some problems related to the in-game items that have ultimately led to the creation of independent markets. The main issues that kickstarted the process was the following:
– Item packs are free, but the keys are not
– You won’t always get what you hoped for
– You can’t buy the thing you want for a higher price if you didn’t get it in the pack
– Some items are given for achievements that take months of continuous playing
– If you didn’t happen to be around to participate in an event, you wouldn’t be able to earn the event-related items or buy them from the official Valve Store
Gamers didn’t see any action from the developers, so they decided to take the matter into their own hands, and that’s how the first in-game items trading markets appeared. Now you can buy and sell TF2 items at one of the dozens of online markets, just choose the one you like and find reliable.
However, it hasn’t always been so easy. First of all, as it usually happens, people started bartering items they were interested in. Sometimes I think that nothing changes from the time when we lived in caves and exchanged berries for meat, we just get newer gear to trade, and that’s all. And as everything that involves people, trade, and profits, such contracts sealed only by word of mouth often ended with one party getting scammed. Only after gamers have had enough, they started creating webmarkets to ensure at least some level of security.
We live in a truly unique time – you can trade things you can’t see for the money you can’t see, and I’m going to make the most of it. When I set my imagination free and let myself daydream a little, I imagine how I show a rare hat from TF2 and say to my grandson or granddaughter that this item will become their on their 16th birthday…
Call me crazy, but I bet someone similar will take place – maybe not in a generation or two, but it definitely will. We are entering digital era, and personally I love it.