In this guide, I’ll explain in list format what F2P players can and can’t to, for the benefit of F2Ps and premiums alike. I want to help F2Ps avoid stupid mistakes and avoid avoiding things that aren’t stupid mistakes, and I want to give premiums a better idea of what to expect when dealing with F2P traders.
One important thing to note is that there are two kinds of free-to-play-ness. You can be F2P or premium in Team Fortress 2, and you can have a paid or unpaid account on Steam. You go premium in TF2 by buying something in the Mann Co store or using an Upgrade To Premium Gift, and you get a paid Steam account by making any purchase on Steam, be it in the Mann Co store or or the Steam game store. Having a paid account on Steam does not automatically make you premium, and I assume that it’s possible by using an Upgrade Gift to be premium in TF2 while still having an unpaid Steam account. The restrictions on TF2 F2Ps serve the purpose of encouraging people to upgrade, whereas the restrictions on unpaid Steam accounts – from what I can tell – are there to prevent people from making a bunch of accounts to spam, harass or advertise.
I am a F2P in TF2 (because I for various reasons enjoy being it) but I have a paid Steam account (because the Portal games exist), which means I have a fair bit of knowledge about the restrictions on the former but very little on the latter. This guide will therefore only talk about the restrictions on TF2 free-to-plays.
This guide is based mostly on my fallible memory and contains some guesswork. If there’s anything I’ve missed or straight up gotten wrong, correct me and I’ll fix it! If you’re wondering about something I haven’t mentioned, ask and I’ll try my best to answer.
Also, all pictures used in the guide were created by Archimedes on Facepunch. Thanks, Archimedes!
- F2Ps can not trade away weapons or crates received through random drops.
What a waste of #57’s.
- F2Ps can not receive cosmetic items through random drops.
Unless you count the Winger and Eviction Notice, which are equally or less useful for killing people than an average hat.
- F2Ps can not craft cosmetic items.
We can craft using all blueprints in the ‘Crafting items’ and ‘Standard items’ list as well as the ‘Custom Blueprint’ from the ‘Special items’ list, but all other blueprints on that and the ‘Rare items’ list are inaccessible. Using ‘Custom Blueprint’ to combine the ingredients for any item in the last two lists does not work.
- F2Ps can not Gift Wrap items.
Or maybe we’ve all just agreed to pretend we can’t send gifts, to cover up for our selfishness! YOU WILL NEVER LEARN THE TRUTH! (we can’t, though.)
- F2Ps can not trade away items received from Supply Crates or Mann Co. Store Packages.
We can use keys and store packages, but the results will be untradeable. So if you’re an F2P who’s managed to obtain keys and intends to open crates with them, you’ll need to be prepared to come up with a clever use for the five Strange Pain Trains you’re gonna end up with.
- F2Ps can receive tools (including taunts) through the random drop system.
As kindly demonstrated by the 2fort Sniper with a salmon-colored Ellis’ Cap.
- F2Ps can trade away tools received through the random drop system, sporadically.
Long ago I received a Dueling Minigame and a Decal Tool through random drops, both of which were inexplicably tradeable. Since then I received three taunts an another Decal Tool which weren’t tradeable, and assumed the earlier ones were the result of an oversight that had been patched. And then, a few days ago, I dropped a tradeable Description Tag. If you’re an F2P and get a tool drop, check your inventory through your Steam account profile page to see whether it’s tagged as tradeable or not.
- F2Ps can send friend requests, send trade offers and initiate trades, provided they have a paid Steam account.
"hay can u gve unusalul plz??"
- F2Ps can trade away items that they have received through trade.
This is a big one, which a surprising amount of people don’t know. If an F2P player receives one item – as a gift, a raffle prize, an inexplicably tradeable dropped tool or whatnot – they can then trade it for other things, which they can in turn trade for other other things. By making good deals, F2P players can, and indeed have, amassed wealth. One particular F2P known as Zeliboid8 has worked himself up to owning an Unusual Galvanized Gibus, valued at 5-6 buds, while also giving away enough items to gather almost 3500 rep on TF2 Raffle House. What a great dude.
- F2Ps can expand their backpacks.
We have a 50-slot backpack by default, but can use Backpack expanders just like premium players; the first expander increases the amount of slots from 50 to 150, the second to 250 and so on.
- F2Ps can submit workshop items and have workshop submissions approved.
Before the era of the workshop, I drew a bafflingly ugly pencil sketch which someone with actual knowledge and talent (NeoDement) came along and turned into a hat. She got the revenue, I got sparkles and a false sense of entitlement. Since the workshop got introduced, I have been marked as a minor contributor on the robot version of the hat, which was approved, and I’ve also submitted one item of my own (which hasn’t been). From this we learn that F2Ps can submit items and that items where F2Ps are marked as contributors can be approved, and also that it’s really hard to write a paragraph like this without sounding like you’re trying to stealth brag.
- F2Ps can alter items without turning them untradeable
If an F2P uses something like a paint can or a name tag on a tradeable item, that item will remain tradeable. This means F2Ps can customize their items without worrying too much about it, but it also means that F2Ps can use untradeable tools to increase the value of tradeable items, allowing them to in a sense create tradeable assets. It’s the perfect crime, if you substitute ‘crime’ for ‘legal thing’ and ‘perfect’ for ‘awfully inefficient’!
(This is irrelevant to the guide, but since it tends to come up whenever I mention being F2P I might as well respond to it.)
For one thing, I’m kinda cheating; I traded my way up to an Upgrade Gift a while ago and used it to create a premium idling alt while keeping my main account F2P.
When I first started playing, I decided to stay F2P wile becoming a good and respected player as an incredibly lame protest against what I perceived to be the irrational prejudice against F2Ps. I eventually dropped that, partly because it’s actually quite understandable that veteran players get upset when a wave of entitled and inexperienced players start bogging down the game they paid real money for, and partly because after >800 hours of gameplay I’m still nowhere near being either good or respected.
By then, though, it was a matter of flaunting value. An F2P player with a bunch of hats is exceptional, a premium with the same is the norm. I eventually dropped that reason as well, though, because nobody actually gives a sh*t.
By now it’s partly because I have as much backpack space and hats as I want and therefore upgrading would be pointless, and partly because I enjoy the freedom of untradeable drops; when I can’t use my dropped weapons for anything other than crafting and wielding, I can do things like spending 40 weapons to craft a Sharp Dresser without feeling like anything went to waste.
Closing thoughts of the guide: Valve has created a wonderfully generous free-to-play model for TF2, where all players start out with full access to all aspects of the gameplay and F2Ps with enough luck and dedication can attain almost the same benefits as premiums even when it comes to the non-gameplay aspects. That’s awfully nice of Valve and they deserve credit for it. Go buy some hats to reward them!