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Hooray! Another free update for Team Fortress 2! But this one, er, asks you to spend money. Easy now, put down that irate message board post. You wouldn't want to do anything you'll end up regretting, after all. Plus, this isn't quite as bad as it looks. Don't believe us? Let's hear what Valve has to say.
“We never really think about the money TF2 makes when we’re thinking about what to do. In this case, the thing that we are trying to build is a framework for a more robust collaboration with the community on content creation. This has been one of TF2’s main drives for some time now. In other games, community creators build content after the release, and it forever remains inaccessible to most players,” Valve told our sister site PC Gamer, who – as per usual – leaped all over this story like a rabid fox that's mistaken your face for a delicious baby bunny.
“We view the Mann-conomy as the next, crucial step in the evolution of how communities interact with products. Now they’ll not only be able to contribute to the product, they will be directly compensated for their work.”
Oh, there's also this exceedingly important bit from Valve's Mann-conomy FAQ:
“Our plan is to continue updating TF2 just like we always have, adding free maps, game modes, new features, and more. The Mann Co. Store is simply an alternative way of obtaining items that other players can earn during gameplay.”
Phew. Plus, almost every item – aside from a few minor cosmetic ones – can be unlocked through traditional means such as random drops and crafting, in addition to new methods like trading and winning mid-match duels. Yes, duels. Now you can daintily slip off the white lace glove of war and slap someone in the face with it. If they accept your duel challenge, they'll be highlighted during the match, and the game will keep track of how many times you've killed one another.
Currently, Valve's marketplace features a smattering of its own items and 17 new community created items, which – according to Valve – equate to “about five new class updates.” In the words of some guy on the street we just talked to: “Yeah, I guess it's a pretty big deal. Who are you? You said there would be food.”