In 2008, Team Fortress 2 was a highly successful retail product, with a development team in full control of its ongoing design and execution, and a community of players acting solely as consumers. By 2012, Team Fortress 2 had become a free-to-play, micro-transaction based game played by millions, where 90% of its ongoing content was being created directly by the players, not the developers. This talk will cover the evolution of Team Fortress 2’s community management from 2008 to 2013, focusing on its shift from a centralized development team to that of a stewardship role over the community’s output. We believe the creation of large scale systems to handle the inclusion of community work directly into products marks a sea change in the relationship between developers and customers, and one that’s broadly applicable to a many kinds of entertainment products.
Robin Walker co-wrote the popular Quake mod “Team Fortress,” in 1996, before being assimilated when Valve acquired Team Fortress Software. Since then, he has been responsible for design, code, and management on various Valve products. In recent years he’s focused on the collision of economics and game design, helping to evolve Team Fortress 2 from a AAA retail product into the Free-To-Play, micro-transaction based world. Today he works on Dota 2, trying to find new ways to build collaborative economic systems between developers, players, and communities.