Team Fortress 2, which launched in 2009, has just hit its all time peak concurrent player count. That number is in excess of 150,000 players, going by sources such as Steam Charts and SteamDB, exceeding its previous peak by about 20,000 players.
You’d be right to have misgivings about the new high total, however, considering the state that TF2 has been in over the past year or so. We’ve reported in the past on the game’s major botting problem, which included bots that tried to extort players to have them removed and promoted links to child pornography. I said that it was an issue that “Valve can’t wait for the community to enact measures against” and it looks like the company took that advice to heart.
A patch that went live last week might have addressed some of those issues and gotten more legitimate players to return. There were “Numerous security and stability improvements,” as well as a way to limit name changes — so as to prevent a seemingly normal player from changing their name to a shady URL — and improvements to voting and kicking.
The new patch may have cut botting — or, if the botters are crafty enough, maybe they’ve just found a new way in and their renewed numbers, combined with legitimate players who have come back after the patch, are what’s causing the surge in player numbers. I’ll admit, though, I saw TF2 in my Steam library the other day and thought, “Maybe I should give that a try again.” (Last played: Oct 30, 2014.) Then I remembered the bots and thought, “No thanks.” If things really are better now, I might reconsider that.