Why do they do this to us? Torture us with nothingness and promises that never fade away and instead bubble in the depths of our minds, occasionally surfacing to torture us? It’s the exact same thing every damn year, year in, year out. Yes, I’m talking about the bloody early year update drought.
The big updates every year are Smissmas, Scream Fortress and the Summer Update, which has a varying name. There used to be more big updates every year, generally with one or two big updates around Scream Fortress and the Summer Update, but as the game has grown older, the attention has faded and the updates are always smaller. The content is drifting away, filled up with, well, hats. But the three big updates have always been pretty big, bringing in something new to gawp at for a while.
Thing is, this unusual patch schedule means that a lot of the year goes ignored. Completely and utterly in some cases. Smissmas and Scream Fortress always happen in December and October respectively, and whatever summer surprises TF2 has in stock for it happen in July and/or August, no exceptions. Occasionally something will pop by in the mean time, but, like last year for example, one of the larger updates, End of the Line, happened right before Smissmas, then was completely overshadowed by it. Poor EOTL people. Poor things. They got screwed over bad.
Anyway, yes, that means that the majority of the year is empty for TF2. The worst part is between February and April, where literally nothing happens. January is okay, because we’re still getting over how great Smissmas was (hopefully) but then there’s a big fat nothingness. For some, competitive TF2 helps fill this gap, there’s generally a new season of something going on, but official communications go dead. If we’re lucky, we’ll see a couple of patches and weapon tweaks, not to mention some more crates, but that’s about it.
This creates a lot of restlessness. It also spawns a lot of, well, hatred towards the developers. You see, not everyone can remember minor things like TF2 updates in the grand scheme of things, especially if it was over a year ago. People forget that this update drought has happened for the last few years or so. It all ends up spawning a typhoon of “TF2 IS DED NOOOOO!” posts and other such nonsense. While sites like teamfortress.tv and /r/tf2/ can kinda get around this stuff, since teamfortress.tv mostly discusses competitive news and /r/tf2/ is, well, weird and constantly links you off to imgur or screenshots or Youtube videos, places like SPUF and SCUD run out of content to talk about. That’s when we start reverting back to our old, whiny selves, complaining about random crits and the Gunslinger and stuff, because they still haven’t changed. You can’t talk about new content if there’s no new content in the first place.
Of course, the community can talk about community-made content. And often we do. We’ll discuss videos and new strategies and maps and whatever annoying weapon combination the popular streamers are currently promoting. But eventually we get bored of that too. We have short attention spans.
I’ve always wondered why this is the case though. I know that summer, the festive season and Halloween are all big things, but they’re all kinda smooshed together. So much of the calendar is empty, so why not put something, anything there? There’s also the case of people and their schedules. But Easter, while not celebrated by everyone, is generally within April or May, and there’s always Spring Break, so why not capitalise on those too? You know who does? Dota 2. They always have a spring event, with some various bits of fun and all that. If Dota 2 can have its little event every year, why can’t the two other most popular games on Steam have spring time updates?
You know what though? It’s not even a case of us being jealous of the overly popular baby brother. All the TF2 team has to do is slap some art together alongside some community-made hats, a community-made map, some community-suggested weapon tweaks and patch notes and BOOM, content.