Team Fortress 2 was very well received by critics and consumers alike. Charles Onyett of IGN awarded Team Fortress 2 an 8.9/10 praising the quirky graphics and fun atmosphere, but criticizing the lack of extra content, like bots, as well as the removal of class-specific Grenades which were one of the defining features of the original Team Fortress. By contrast, PC Gamer UK praised Team Fortress 2 for removing the Grenade, continuing to compliment Valve Software for the unique nature of each of the game's characters. Despite some mild criticism over map navigation and the Medic class, PC Gamer UK awarded the game 94%. X-Play awarded The Orange Box with its highest rating (5/5) with nothing but good things to say about Team Fortress 2. Review aggregation site Metacritic ranks Team Fortress 2 as having received "universal acclaim," with an average critic review of 92%, based on 12 reviews by game critic sites, and a 9.6/10 rating based on user ratings. As of January 21, 2008, The Orange Box has a GameRankings score of 96.2% on the Xbox 360, making it tied for the highest ranked Xbox 360 game and a score of 96.2% on the PC.
On November 6, 2012, Valve announced the release of Team Fortress 2 for Linux as part of a restricted beta launch of Steam on the platform. This initial release of Steam and Team Fortress 2 was targeted at Ubuntu with support for other distributions planned for the future. Later, on December 20, 2012, Valve opened up access to the beta, including Team Fortress 2, to all Steam users without the need to wait for an invitation. On February 14, 2013, Valve announced the full release of Team Fortress 2 for Linux. From then to March 1, anyone who played the game on Linux would receive a free Tux penguin, which can be equipped in-game.
Valve had provided other promotions to draw players into the game. Valve has held weekends of free play for Team Fortress 2 before the game was made free-to-play. Through various updates, hats and accessories can be worn by any of the classes, giving players an ability to customize the look of their character, and extremely rare hats named "Unusuals" have particle effects attached to it and are only obtainable through opening "crates" or trading with other players. New weapons were added in updates to allow the player to choose a loadout and play style that best suits them.
The game's first television commercial premiered during the first episode of the fifth season of The Venture Bros. in June 2013, featuring in-game accessories that were created with the help of Adult Swim.
Team Fortress 2 received widespread critical acclaim, with overall scores of 92/100 "universal acclaim" on Metacritic. Many reviewers praised the cartoon-styled graphics, and the resulting light-hearted gameplay, and the use of distinct personalities and appearances for the classes impressed a number of critics, with PC Gamer UK stating that "until now multiplayer games just haven't had it". Similarly, the game modes were received well, GamePro described the settings as focusing "on just simple fun", while several reviewers praised Valve for the map "Hydro" and its attempts to create a game mode with variety in each map. Additional praise was bestowed on the game's level design, game balance and teamwork promotion. Team Fortress 2 has received several awards individually for its multiplayer gameplay and its graphical style, as well as having received a number of "game of the year" awards as part of The Orange Box.
The Invasion Community Update was a major community-created update and event added on October 6, 2015. Announced with a community-created Source Filmmaker video, it added four new maps, one of them a themed version of 2Fort, 16 new cosmetic items, 4 weapon reskins, 9 new Invasion-themed unusual effects, and a new taunt. Also included in the update was the Invasion Community Update Pass, which allowed players to directly support the team behind the update and also granted them access to special crate drops and to the Invasion Community Update Coin, which counted kills during the event.
Valve released a freely available application programming interface (API) called Steamworks in 2008, which developers can use to integrate Steam's functions into their products, including in-game achievements, microtransactions, and user-created content support. Initially developed for Microsoft Windows operating systems, Steam was released for macOS in 2010 and Linux in 2012. Mobile apps to access online Steam features were first released for iOS and Android in 2012. The platform also offers other digital content and Valve gaming hardware, including productivity software, game soundtracks, videos and VR headset Valve Index.
Valve was looking for a way to better update its published games as providing downloadable patches for multiplayer games resulted in most of the online user base disconnecting for several days until players had installed the patch. Valve decided to create a platform that would update games automatically and implement stronger anti-piracy and anti-cheat measures. Through user polls at the time of its announcement in 2002, Valve also recognized that at least 75% of their users had access to high-speed Internet connections, which would continue to grow with planned broadband expansion in the following years, and recognized that they could deliver game content faster to players than through retail channels. Valve approached several companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo!, and RealNetworks to build a client with these features, but were declined.
Prior to the announcement of Steam, Valve found that Sierra had been distributing their games in PC cafes which they claimed was against the terms of the contract, and took Sierra and their owners, Vivendi Games, to court in 2002. Sierra countersued, asserting that with the announcement of Steam, Valve had been working to undermine the contract to offer a digital storefront for their games, directly competing with Sierra. The case was initially ruled in Valve's favor, allowing them to leave the contract due to the breach and seek other publishing partners for retail copies of its games while continuing their work on Steam. One such company had been Microsoft, but Ed Fries stated that they turned down the offer due to Valve's intent to continue to sell their games over Steam.
Steam's primary service is to allow its users to purchase games and other software, adding them to a virtual library from which they may be downloaded and installed an unlimited number of times. Initially, Valve was required to be the publisher for these games since they had sole access to the Steam's database and engine, but with the introduction of the Steamworks software development kit (SDK) in May 2008, anyone could integrate Steam into their game without Valve's direct involvement.
In September 2008, Valve added support for Steam Cloud, a service that can automatically store saved game and related custom files on Valve's servers; users can access this data from any machine running the Steam client. Games must use the appropriate features of Steamworks for Steam Cloud to work. Users can disable this feature on a per-game and per-account basis. Cloud saving was expanded in January 2022 for Dynamic Cloud Sync, allowing games developed with this feature to store saved states to Steam Cloud while a game is running rather than waiting until the user quit out of the game; this was added ahead of the portable Steam Deck unit so that users can save from the Deck and then put the unit into a suspended state. In May 2012, the service added the ability for users to manage their game libraries from remote clients, including computers and mobile devices; users can instruct Steam to download and install games they own through this service if their Steam client is currently active and running. Product keys sold through third-party retailers can also be redeemed on Steam. For games that incorporate Steamworks, users can buy redemption codes from other vendors and redeem these in the Steam client to add the title to their libraries. Steam also offers a framework for selling and distributing downloadable content (DLC) for games.
In September 2013, Steam introduced the ability to share most games with family members and close friends by authorizing machines to access one's library. Authorized players can install the game locally and play it separately from the owning account. Users can access their saved games and achievements providing the main owner is not playing. When the main player initiates a game while a shared account is using it, the shared account user is allowed a few minutes to either save their progress and close the game or purchase the game for his or her own account. Within Family View, introduced in January 2014, parents can adjust settings for their children's tied accounts, limiting the functionality and accessibility to the Steam client and purchased games.
In accordance with its acceptable use policy, Valve retains the right to block customers' access to their games and Steam services when Valve's Anti-Cheat (VAC) software determines that the user is cheating in multiplayer games, selling accounts to others, or trading games to exploit regional price differences. Blocking such users initially removed access to his or her other games, leading to some users with high-value accounts losing access because of minor infractions. Valve later changed its policy to be similar to that of Electronic Arts' Origin platform, in which blocked users can still access their games but are heavily restricted, limited to playing in offline mode and unable to participate in Steam Community features. Customers also lose access to their games and Steam account if they refuse to accept changes to Steam's end user license agreements; this last occurred in August 2012. In April 2015, Valve began allowing developers to set bans on players for their games, but enacted and enforced at the Steam level, which allowed them to police their own gaming communities in a customizable manner. 2b1af7f3a8