Tip of the Hats Raises Over $125,000 for Charity in One Day

Tip of the Hats, the annual charity stream run by the community of popular first-person shooter Team Fortress 2, is already off to a great start with well over $125,000 raised for the One Step Camp charity.  Since its founding in 2013 by Sean “seanbud” Stradley, Tip of the Hats gathers several notable TF2 players every year for a full weekend of streaming various events and raffles all to raise money for One Step Camp, a non-profit charity organization that raises money to send children with cancer to camp.  Events for the stream include 6v6 competitive matches, 1-on-1 duels, surf and jump maps, and chances to play the game on-stream alongside popular Youtubers like Star_, Jerma985, and tagg.

Even before broadcasting had started this year, donators had already sent the campaign a cumulative $30,000.  In the first eight hours of the broadcast, Tip of the Hats had broken its personal record of $108,000 set last year.  At the time of writing, this year’s campaign has raised exactly $129,664 and there are still 24 hours left to go.  If you want to help contribute to the Tip of the Hats campaign, you can check out their stream at tipofthehats.org or on their Twitch channel where they’ll be streaming all throughout Sunday, September 20th.  They accept either cash donations or in-game items for Team Fortress 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that they can then raffle off.  Donating at least $20 over the course of the campaign will get you an exclusive TF2 cosmetic item, the Jaunty Pin.

Team Fortress 2 New Update: Gun Mettle

Gun Mettle

Gun Mettle is the most recent update in the 2007’s wacky First Person Shooter Team Fortress 2.

This update is bringing a whole new package of skins – 4 in total – 4 maps, 3 new taunts, and most importantly, the Gun mettle Campaign.

This campaign will only be available for three months, during an event that will allow players to complete a set of skill-based challenges that will unlock a selection of rare weapons and/or weapons cases. But to be able to participate in this event, you’ll need to buy the Gun Mettle Campaign Pass.

This DLC will bring Borne, a jungle themed map; Powerhouse, a “three-point CP map.”; Snowplow which is a control point map; and Suijin, that is another King of the Hill map with Japanese theme .

Missing textures, stuttering lag, and even command errors seem to be causing some bad briefing from Team Fortress’ players, which lead them to consider the game unplayable at the moment, even though Valve warn that mistakes and errors were to be expected in such an early stage.

So, do you consider the fact that Valve is publishing what they consider to be “material that was to be expected to be wrong” a bad thing? Or do you rather believe that having new content is always the most important? Please be sure to tell us in the comments!

Everyone Should Keep a Free-to-Play Checkbook

Just in case my numerous articles haven’t been enough to tip you off, I am currently obsessed with the free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone.  It’s a great game with a bright future that I’ve already put more time into than I care to count.  To date, I’ve put exactly $40 into the game, which is exactly as much as I would happily spend for an enjoyable budget title like this if it was being sold in retail.  Team Fortress 2 is another free-to-play game that I have lovingly poured hundreds of hours into, but no more than $5 in microtransactions at this point.  Pokemon Shuffle, which I recently reviewed, hasn’t cost me a dime.  Now, I want to ask how much you’ve spent on any given free-to-play game that you’ve enjoyed.  Have you put in $1o, $20, or maybe nothing at all?  Have you spent anywhere from $60 to even $100?  Have you carelessly spent thousands on a title that was supposedly free?  If you can’t give me an exact answer, give or take five to ten, then you have a problem.

I think that free-to-play is one of the greatest innovations that the gaming industry has had in the last generation.  It has undoubtedly been a boon for countless multiplayer games by lowering the barrier of entry and raising the active community.  Given that these types of games live and die entirely based on their player bases, this can save a game that may have otherwise fallen through the cracks and make the big games even bigger.  It’s also a godsend for avid gamers who can’t afford the latest systems and all the AAA releases.  Free-to-play opens up incredible new possibilities that leave everyone better off.  At least, it’s a great model when both sides are using it wisely.

The major downside of free-to-play models is their nasty habit of nickel-and-diming their players with microtransactions.  In some cases, it is the fault of the game developers.  Games like Marvel Heroes put up massive paywalls for getting the heroes you want to play as while never allowing you any inclination as to whether or not you’ll actually enjoy playing as that character outside of simple brand recognition.  Mobile apps like Super Monster Bros have purchase pop-ups for $100 in the diabolical hopes of scamming unsuspecting children.  These kinds of practices are certainly abhorrent, but they’re not the only ones responsible for some of the most outrageous purchases made through microtransactions.

Too often, players will spend frivolously on microtransactions with little regard as to how much they’re actually paying in the grand scheme of things.  With microtransactions being such small purchases, it’s far easier to spend without putting much thought into how much you’re actually getting out of your purchase.  Even when a game has the most generous business model to it, it’s easy to splurge on little things here and there.  Before you know it, you end up spending up to hundreds of dollars on the type of game that you could have just bought outright for only twenty.  With every free-to-play game that you play, you should keep track of every microtransaction you pay for to see the bigger picture of how much your spending.  Compare how much you’re spending on a free-to-play game with the fixed prices of other games and consider how much value you are really getting.  If the free-to-play game is strong-arming you into paying more, then that should be a sign that you should stop playing it.  There’s no shortage of free-to-play games that will treat you better and there are plenty of traditionally priced games that offer plenty of replayablity at a cheap price.

With all of that said, there’s no shame in intentionally spending a little extra on your favorite games.  Free-to-play should be seen as a system where you pay as much as you want for a game.  If you really love what the developers are doing, then by all means show your support with in-game purchases.  Honestly, my only regret with Team Fortress 2 is that I haven’t spent more on it at this point.  Also, it is your money and how much it’s really worth is going to be your choice.  My point is that we should all take responsibility when using these sorts of business models and know how much we’re investing into our hobbies.

Team Fortress 2 Charity Event Cancelled Due to Shady Business

Fortress

Flares that Care, an independently-organized charity event, was scheduled to take place throughout this weekend with several notable Team Fortress 2 players gathering to raise donations for Child’s Play.  Unfortunately, the event was cancelled due to the shady business of one of the organizers.  Suspicions were raised when it was announced that they would accept in-game items as donations toward the cause.  This was problematic as these digital items lack a fixed value and would need to go through third-party transactions rather than the direct route to Child’s Play that would be done with Paypal donations.  This prompted Reddit user Digresser to investigate the possibility of a scheme going on behind the scenes and found some troubling information.  You can read about all of his findings here.

To summarize Digresser’s findings, it was discovered that, while most of the organizers of the event have clean reputations, two active members have histories of scamming players for valuable items.  Of particular note is organization co-founder Snoven who, after a falling-out with fellow co-founder B_Red that had resulting in B_Red leaving the group, was left with sole authority over the account that was handling the donated items.  After some investigation, it was discovered that Snoven had previously used another Steam account called AmethyzFox that had openly bragged about carrying out scams over Team Fortress 2.  Along with Snoven, Public Relations admin Plotchy also has a history of these kinds of scams dating as recently as early December of last year.  Suspicions were proven valid when Snoven announced that the Flares that Care event was cancelled, preemptively donated items would be returned on request, and that he was going to change his account once again in the hopes of seeing this all blow over.  Snoven is claiming that the event was his attempt at turning over a new leaf, but his reputation clearly indicates that he can’t be trusted with handling so many valuable items in a way that no outside parties can keep track of.  Many of the prominent players that were scheduled to take part in the event have proclaimed outrage over the scandal and that they nearly contributed to it.

It’s heartbreaking to see such a worthwhile cause go to waste because of someone’s get-rich-quick scheme.  Some members are trying to salvage the event, but its reputation is undoubtedly tainted following everything that has come to light and many of the celebrity players have no interest in returning.  With that said, Child’s Play itself is still a great charity organization and you should consider donating to them directly at their official website.  Just be wary of potential scams like this going under the guise of charity and make sure you know that donations are being handled responsibly.