Home Fed-up Team Fortress 2 players swamp the 16-year-old game with a review bomb

Fed-up Team Fortress 2 players swamp the 16-year-old game with a review bomb


  • Team Fortress 2 faces review bombing due to bot issues that Valve Corp. allegedly ignores.
  • Once praised, recent reviews from 20,000 players are mostly negative due to rampant cheating and neglect.
  • Despite peak popularity in 2023, user dissatisfaction caused player numbers to drop significantly.

Team Fortress 2, a landmark in the hero-shooter genre that launched more than 16 years ago, has been review-bombed in the marketplace of the developer and publisher that launched it, because of ongoing bot problems that players say Valve Corp. refuses to acknowledge or address.

The “all reviews” rating from more than a million users still says very positive, but “recent reviews” from nearly 20,000 players feeling neglected get a red “mostly negative” reaction. Not only do cheat bots warp the free-to-play, multiplayer-only title, the owners of said cheat bots are going so far as to dox [find and publish personal information] those who complain, according to the reviews.

“A must-own game for your steam collection, next to games like Counter Strike GO and Terraria,” said one review, originally published in 2014. It was updated on Tuesday to say “Ten years later and it’s a shell of it’s former self.” The user in question has more than 2,200 hours of in-game play time.

“I CANNOT recommend that anyone play this game in its current state,” reads another review from another 2,000 hour player, right underneath that. “It is rampant with aimbots, idle bots, hate speech, and has been a victim of neglect by its developer for many years. Don’t bother picking up Team Fortress 2.”

Team Fortress 2 launched Oct. 10, 2007 for Windows PC, with versions later coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. In a heyday spanning 2008 to 2012, Valve would push out narrative-style trailers featuring the game’s nine characters, expanding its lore and nurturing sincere fan attachment to characters like the twangy Aussie Sniper, the sinister Spy, the brute Heavy, and of course, the insane and incomprehensible Pyro. It not only deepened fan attachment to Team Fortress 2, it also set expectations for other hero shooters to come, like 2016’s Overwatch, its 2023 sequel Overwatch 2, and Electronic Arts’ live service hit Apex Legends (2019).

Team Fortress 2 is still among the top 10 of most played games on Steam (excepting mods and other apps, according to Steamdb) and by far the oldest release among its top 50. TF2 hit an all-time peak of more than 253,000 concurrent users in July 2023, though those numbers plunged below 75,000 on Tuesday, no doubt influenced by the protest campaign.

Why is Team Fortress 2 in such trouble?

The problem, according to a user with more than 8,500 hours of in-game time, dates to 2016 when Team Fortress 2 matchmaking was “forced into valve-run casual servers with a complete lack of player balancing during rounds, no map nomination system, and no proper moderation.

“This change paved the way for cheat bots to be created, choking out actual players, rendering the game unplayable for most of the day,” the player continued, in a review posted June 2. “No active attempts are being made to solve this issue. […] This bot problem was solved years ago by the community through their own community run servers, yet roughly 2/3ds of users are being funneled into casual servers due to the casual matchmaking system.”

Team Fortress 2’s most recent title update came April 22. Valve’s most recently published game was Counter-Strike 2, launched in September 2023. Before that came Half-Life: Alyx, launched 2020 for Meta Quest, HTC Vive, and other virtual reality headsets.

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Owen Good
Gaming Editor (US)

Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He is a Gaming Editor for ReadWrite working from his home in North Carolina, the United States, joining this publication in April, 2024. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in New York. A second-generation newspaperman, Good's career before covering video games included daily newspaper stints in North Carolina; in upstate New York; in Washington, D.C., with the Associated Press; and…

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