Valve squashes Team Fortress 2 and Portal fan projects after years of leniency

Valve may have had a change of heart about fan-made tribute projects “borrowing” its intellectual property. GamesRadar+ reported on the Steam maker’s DMCA takedown notice sent to the creators of Team Fortress: Source 2, a passion project porting TF2 to the more modern Source 2 game engine. In addition, the Steam maker squashed a Portal demake for the Nintendo 64, hinting at a possible shift toward a more protective corporate strategy from the typically lenient Valve.

“The TF2 assets have been ported to Source 2 without permission and are being redistributed by Amper Software in a game mode for Facepunch’s S@box,” the legally stern DMCA notice to Amper reads. “Facepunch has not licensed any Valve assets for S@box. The unauthorized porting and redistributing of Valve’s assets without a license violates Valve’s IP.”

Amper unsurprisingly says that’s the end of the line for Team Fortress: Source 2, but the labor of love may have already been hanging on by a thread. The development team wrote on X (Twitter) that the project was already in trouble due to recent code changes to S&box (pronounced “sandbox”), the Source 2-based development framework on which the passion project was built.

Hello everyone. We have some unfortunate news to share with you.

Today, we received a DMCA takedown from Valve on all our public GitHub repositories and all its forks made by the community.

— Team Fortress: Source 2 (@TeamFortressS2) January 10, 2024

Team Fortress: Source 2’s developers said the takedown notice was the nail in the coffin for the already teetering project. “We cannot bring it back and we’ve hit Valve’s attention, it seems like they definitely don’t want us to use their IP (which is totally fair and legal from them),” Amper posted.

Although the takedown is indeed viable from a legal standpoint, it still sends a message to fans about a possible strategy shift at the Steam Deck maker. Valve has typically turned a blind eye to fan projects using its IP, making the move somewhat startling. The Team Fortress franchise evolved from a Quake mod, and Valve has worked with mod makers to sell two fan projects — Black Mesa and Portal: Revolution — on Steam. At the very least, some of Valve’s most dedicated fans working on similar projects will now think twice.


Meanwhile, Portal 64, an in-development playable port of the 2007 puzzler to the Nintendo 64, is also dead. Its developer described a Valve that sounds more worried about the Mario maker’s lawyers than the infringement of its own IP. “Because the project depends on Nintendo’s proprietary libraries, they have asked me to take the project down,” developer James Lambert wrote to the project’s Patreon backers (cross-posted to X by another user). “I am letting all you know before so you can choose to withdraw your support before the next payment cycle.”

GamesRadar+ notes some ambiguity about Valve’s reference to “proprietary libraries.” It may be that Lambert used official Nintendo development software (never technically launched publicly) to port the game to the decades-old console. However, open-source alternatives also exist, and Lambert hasn’t addressed whether he used Nintendo’s tools.

That situation may align more closely with Valve killing the Dolphin emulator’s chances to launch on Steam last year. Although the company didn’t explicitly tell that development team its emulator couldn’t be on Steam, it had that effect indirectly. “Given Nintendo’s long-held stance on emulation, we find Valve’s requirement for us to get approval from Nintendo for a Steam release to be impossible,” Dolphin’s developers wrote in 2023 about the Zelda creator’s famously litigious approach to IP. “Unfortunately, that’s that.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at 

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