Player counts far lower than those reported by Steam, and the upcoming release of Half-Life: Alyx, means that development on Team Fortress 2 is reportedly on hold. In a video by Valve reporter Tyler McVicker published earlier today (and embedded below) Valve employees said that the development team is extremely small, and that no new updates are currently in the works.
Long-time Valve developer Greg Coomer told McVicker "there are very few people working on Team Fortress. I don't know the exact number, but it's hardly anyone anymore. I think that's kind of obvious, because we don't have big updates for that game really anymore. We're just kind of keeping it going and we're just going to try and not shut it down or anything."
Another anonymous developer added"Valve doesn't know right now what they will release in the next content update," and that the studio has "more important things" to work on. That employee said that "Valve won't ever announce that Team Fortress 2's development is over," because they might undo that decision in future, but "in short, [...] players will have to sit in eternal anticipation of the next update. Valve will not tell you that nothing is coming."
McVicker's report goes on to say that developers from across Valve - particularly those with Half-Life experience - are being moved onto Half-Life: Alyx as the new game gets closer to release, and that "Team Fortress 2 has, for all intents and purposes, been put on hold." McVicker acknowledges that developers will be free to move back to other projects after the new game launches, but suggests that its production is likely to spin off into brand-new games.
The report comes after fans noticed that nods to both the Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead series are both absent from Valve's new Twitter account. While that's hardly proof of abandonment, the picture features imagery from all of the company's other major games, including Portal and Dota Underlords. While Team Fortress 2 remains one of the most-played games on Steam by the platform's own metrics, McVicker cites community site Teamwork.TF, which states that the number of players actually playing the game (rather than idling to gain items) is less than 10,000, compared to the nearly 50,000 listed by Steam - which is lower than the number of people currently playing the original Counter-Strike.