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Team Fortress 2’s long-running bot problems draw protest — and a Valve response

Developers say they’re ‘working to improve things’ in first tweet in two years

Team Fortress 2 Image: Valve
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Team Fortress 2‘s Twitter account had been dark for nearly two years, but Valve broke that silence on Thursday afternoon, promising to look into hacking and cheating issues angering the 15-year-old game’s still-devoted fanbase.

Earlier this week, Team Fortress 2 fans took to Reddit and Twitter to start a “Save TF2” campaign, after years of fighting against bots with no action from Valve. “Not the fun kind [of bots] from Mann VS Machine,” wrote Reddit user diamondDNF. “Aimbots that insta-kill players, spam slurs and copyrighted music in chat, and vote kick all the human players once a lobby has more bots than humans.”

This botting issue — which some redditors blame on a source code leak in 2020 — has understandably ruined the game for most players. So, on May 26, the community and many content creators staged a peaceful protest called #SaveTF2. The hashtag trended on Twitter as fans posted comics, jokes, explanations, and memories about the game.

One fan even dressed up as a TF2 Spy and brought a sign to Valve’s offices — they were promptly removed, according to their Reddit post, likely due to the ski mask that plays a key role in their cosplay.

Valve’s lone tweet is vague, but at least it responds directly to the peaceful protesters who spent this week trying to make a difference in their favorite game. It’s unclear how or when Valve will fix this issue, but for now fans are happy simply that the studio responded to their movement, and that Team Fortress 2 might be playable again soon.

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