Team Fortress 2’s summer update brought new cosmetic items to Valve’s 2007 team-based shooter, but it seems that the very same update also introduced a bug that has thrown the game’s online item marketplace into chaos.
It’s a rough situation that Valve is still trying to get under control (PCGamesN reports that the company has disabled TF2’s marketplace to temporarily plug the leak), and an example of one of the potential complications devs face when community-driven economies come into play in online games.
Like other games that use Steam Marketplace for item trading, Team Fortress 2 allows players to buy, sell, and trade items obtained in game like weapons and hats using funds in their Steam Wallets. The value of those items naturally hinges on their rarity and the chance that they’ll drop when opening one of the game’s loot box-like Mann Co. Supply Crate.
But, as a post on the game's subreddit points out, the crate drop rates for “Unusual” items seem to have increased to 100 percent with this latest update, causing the marketplace value of those Unusual-class items to tank as once rare gear became easily obtainable.
For example, an Unusual item that sold for between $35 and $17 over the last month currently runs around $5 on the Team Fortress 2 marketplace. For some items, the drop has been even more significant.
As mentioned before, PCGamesN reports that Valve has disabled access to inventories outside of regular gameplay to halt buying and selling, on top of pausing the ability to open new crates. Valve has yet to make an official statement on the matter, but, prior to the trading pause, that Reddit post cautioned players not to trade items until the bug has been ironed out.