Warlock 2: The Exiled review

This way lies madness: Gaslamp Games and Clockwork Empires

The Elder Scrolls Online review

Is Team Fortress 2's lucrative ear-bud market being manipulated by mysterious cabal?

This is a bit like something out of a John le Carré novel: allegedly Steam users in Russia have been buying Mann Co Supply Crate Keys at a few dollars each, selling the Keys on to other players in exchange for Team Fortress 2 Earbuds and then selling the Buds for cash, seemingly at a loss. Why? Because the Keys are being bought with illegitimate credit cards, while the Buds (TF2's most valuable item) are being sold for real cash. The reason it's news now is because, according to SteamRep, over 5,000 Keys have been fraudulently purchased today alone, four times as many as usual. Valve, they say, could be missing tens of thousands of dollars.

Here's the full post on SteamRep, complete with wavy graphs and urgent red circles. Armed with a giant cache of keys, it seems the fraudsters were trading Keys for Buds at way above the going rate (up to 30 Keys per Buds, rather than the average of 25 Keys) with the intention of shifting their dirty loot as quickly as possible.

It's a mildly confusing tale, especially if you're not up to speed on just how TF2 item trading works, but the author of the investigation details precisely how he tracked down a mysterious cabal of Key purchasing accounts, all accounts made within the past few months, by interviewing the players who'd traded their Buds at the inflated price offered by the miscreants. It's fascinating, though still speculative at this stage,

If the accusations are correct, the potential for damage can't be ignored, with thousands of Keys allegedly being injected into the TF2 economy through stolen credit card details. This isn't a new problem either. The unofficial investigator points to a string of similar spikes in Key purchasing by suspicious accounts happening throughout 2012. 

That said, if this is an ongoing problem, it's hopefully one Valve are already aware of. They recently celebrated the Mann Co Store's two year Manniversary.

Login or Register


Valve believe microtransactions used for evil will ultimately "lose in the marketplace"

Team Fortress 2 update renders Quickplay more reliably quick and play-full

Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 item makers earn average of $15,000 each

Dota 2 works on Steam controller but pro play is “not really the goal”

Team Fortress 2 gets frosty, big plans are in the works for 2014

Saxxiest 2013 Team Fortress 2 Source Filmmakers announced: watch their work here


Steam Trading Card beta launches; achievements now have tangible value

Necromedic: healing transcends death in Team Fortress 2's Mann vs Machine Two Cities update

Cast your vote for the Saxxy Awards

The Mannhattan Project: Team Fortress 2 Two Cities update relocates Mann vs Machine to New York

"We do not agree with the Attorney General’s account of the Bitcoin incident" - ESEA

Valve concoct Collector's Items, several new chemistry sets for Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

What is SteamPipe?

Don’t give up the ghost: Team Fortress 2 update enables Halloween all year round

Scream Fortress is alive; “These updates will kill you - GUARANTEED!”

Valve tease Team Fortress 2 Halloween event with big comic, corpse wars and spookiness

Dress as your favourite empress-killer in Team Fortress 2

Valve bring Saxxy back for third year of TF2 video contest


Not cool: Bitcoin mining malware found in ESEA server client

Valve spook Team Fortress 2 Workshop creators into getting prepped for Halloween

Team Fortress 2 robot figurines are quite the thing

XP gain: Valve make Team Fortress 2 friendlier for ageing Windows OS

Better living through chemistry sets: Team Fortress 2 updated

Team Fortress 2 update deals with undedicated dedicated server, sees off shadow bug