Valve might have earned $67k from the Team Fortress 2 economy bug

Because of the nature of the Steam marketplace, Valve might have generated a passive profit

Earlier this week, a bug hit Team Fortress 2, guaranteeing that players who opened in-game chests would receive a rare cosmetic drop and tanking the game’s economy almost overnight. Valve has since disabled item trading, but while it’s working on a fix, the nature of the Steam marketplace means that it has potentially generated a passive, but handsome profit. According to one Reddit user, that might be as much as $67,122.93 (around £55,000).

User InstantMuffin has posted a detailed breakdown of “Valve’s profits from the market crash” on the Team Fortress 2 subreddit, and they say that “based on crate 82 and 85 alone [these] are at over $30,000.” Though they say their estimations and calculations may not be entirely accurate, they give some “ballpark numbers” about the money made by the studio from certain crates, with edits of the list ongoing.

The user says “with crates 1-18, 82 and 85 and key sales (minus [a] generous amount of income they would get from normal market key sales during that time), we are at $67,122.93 income” at their time of writing. Valve’s profit stems from the ‘tax’ it earns through the marketplace, which automatically grants the company a small cut of every sale made across a number of games. You can see a breakdown of InstantMuffin’s maths in the tables they drew up.

InstantMuffin says in the comments that they began collecting data “as soon as [they] saw a huge increase in sales amount or price change.” They advise, though, that their number “does not account for key sales in the Mann Co. store, and not for the market sales of Unusuals”.

It’s not clear exactly how accurate these numbers are, but the poster has thrown open their workings for verification to the community, and commented with their reasoning. One user has suggested that the number of crate sales might even be higher.

Since the hiccup started to unfold, Valve has posted on the official TF2 Twitter channel saying that “trading, unboxing, and marketing for TF” would be taken down for a while, that “all Unusuals from the bugged crates have been marked as non-tradable for the time being”, and that it’s evaluating what to do about them. Whatever the solution to this episode might be, it’s anyone’s guess what the impact on TF2’s economy might be going forward.