Team Fortress 2 offers two main account types; "premium" and "free". On June 23, 2011, with the release of the Über Update, Valve adopted the free-to-play (or "F2P") model for the game, creating a distinction in account types between players who purchased the game before June 23, 2011 and players who download the game afterwards. Free and premium accounts only differ in the restrictions of the system of items, and as such, no restrictions for either type affect gameplay or offer particular players any advantage over others.
The free account type is defined as players who have activated the game on Steam after June 23, 2011 on their respective accounts. In comparison to premium accounts, free accounts offer players less capability to trade, craft, and store items in their Backpack. Free accounts reduce the player's Backpack size to only 50 slots and disable some cosmetic crafting blueprints that are available to them. In addition to this, players can only receive items through trading, but cannot send items themselves through trading. Additionally, the item drop system will only drop Standard items (only weapons). Although typically gameplay restrictions are not placed on free accounts, dedicated server plugins have been developed to block players who have free accounts from connecting to the server at all. Some game-altering hat sets are also unable to be crafted. Premium accounts used to have access to Team Fortress 2 Beta, however it was removed on June 7, 2013. When a F2P account is upgraded to a Premium account, the account will be asked what person coached them. Doing so will give the coach the Professor Speks.
The premium account type is an account that had a copy of Team Fortress 2 purchased prior to June 23, 2011, obtained by buying a retail or digital copy of The Orange Box or any free account that has activated the game by making a purchase from the Mann Co. Store. The premium account type does not have newer restrictions on obtaining and storing items, nor on standard gameplay. Players who purchased Team Fortress 2 prior to June 23, 2011 were also rewarded with the Proof of Purchase, a headwear item for all classes.
Item system restrictions
|Backpack||Limited to 50 slots||300 slots (expandable to 2000 with the use of the Backpack Expander tool)|
|Items||Standard||Standard, Rare and Cosmetic|
|Crafting||Limited blueprints||All blueprints|
|Trading||Can receive items and can trade items that have been traded to them||Can send and receive items|
|Gift Wrap||Can only receive gift-wrapped items||Can send and receive gift-wrapped items|
Upgrading account type
Players with free accounts can upgrade their account to a premium account by making a purchase of any amount from the Mann Co. Store or by using an Upgrade to Premium Gift traded by another player. Upon completing the purchase or using the Gift, the player's account is immediately upgraded to premium, and all previously-imposed restrictions are removed.
Players who had previously purchased a retail copy of Team Fortress 2 will have their account upgraded to premium upon activation of the game on Steam, and will also receive the Proof of Purchase item.
- Free-to-Play FAQ, teamfortress.com, June 23, 2011. Accessed June 26, 2011.
- Free-to-Play FAQ on the TF2 Official Website