What just happened? Team Fortress 2 had 151,253 concurrent players on Steam on Friday evening. After a few hours of hovering around the 150k mark, it cooled off to about 130k over Saturday, before climbing back up to 150k last night. Pretty impressive stuff for a 14-year-old game.
TF2 needs no introduction, except perhaps to a gamer too young to have experienced it in its heyday. Well, if that's you, now's your chance: welcome to the TF2 renaissance. (Case in point: read how we announced with much fanfare in 2011, TF2 was going free to play, a true pioneer).
TF2's biggest problem has always been bots, and the responses to the dev's self-congratulation (below) on passing 150k proclaim is that a significant portion of the 150k aren't real players. Fair enough, lots of people ditched the game because of the bots and are still sour about it. But the spike in the game's popularity isn't because of more bots, it's actually the opposite...
TF2 currently has 150k concurrent players on Steam for the first time ever https://t.co/dpQogcKYtp--- Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) June 25, 2021
On Wednesday night, Valve updated the game with some new cosmetics and some serious bot countermeasures. The recent peaks can probably be attributed to players wanting to check out if the bots are gone or not.
The verdict seems to be yes, the bot population has shrunk a lot. Although if you go looking for them, you can still find some servers with the same human-to-robot ratio as the planet Mars.
TF2 probably won't sustain these levels of popularity forever, given that it's peaked near 150k before and then dropped right back down to its 100k average. Its Twitch viewership has been mostly dead this past year, which means that the game's not attracting new players at the moment. But that's always susceptible to change.