Analyst Pegs TF2 Hat Economy At $50 Million

Done with that Zynga story? Thought that was all the economics you were getting today? Nope. While he's not recommending investor action, writer Paul Manwaring did some number crunching and conservatively valued Team Fortress 2's unique items economy at, oh, about $US50 million.

Now, that's not $US50 million in real money that Valve has either made, or has been invested by gamers into a system and is floating around loose somewhere. Hats and unique items are found by unlocking crates, crates are unlocked with keys and keys can be acquired for free, basically at the equivalence of 18 dropped weapons to one key. (They may also be bought for actual money, too.) This is a valuation, nothing more.

Manwaring examined the statistics kept (and made public) for TF2 and, long story short, finds that a community of 30,000 concurrent players each day in TF2 on Steam is injecting $US1.54 million worth of "refined metal" into this virtual economy each week. Refined metal is what creates a key. As the hat economy began in May 2009, Manwaring estimates that "we can be confident in a minimum figure of $US52.7 million," as its valuation, "without even taking into account weapons bought in the store, promotional items and more. The true figure is probably double this."

I highly recommend you read Manwaring's entire post. Again, it's not money in Valve's bank account. But it is another way to characterise the enthusiasm and time investment Team Fortress 2's dedicated players sink into the game.

The $US50 Million Virtual Millinery [Paul Manwaring, for The Online Society]


    I think you'll find that it is money in Valve's bank account, since you can't craft keys, you can only buy them from Valve's Mann Co. Store.

    Metal doesn't create the keys, players trade metal for keys, and thy only way to get a key into the economy is to buy it off Valve. That's the beauty/evil of the whole system.

      He's not talking about keys so much as the general value of the market for hats in USD terms, using the keys as a point of reference to determine the 'exchange rate' between refined metal (and thus other items) and keys.
      Valve isn't actually making money from that trading.

        Yeah, I realised that after I posted my comment :/

        But that's not to say Valve isn't making a killing off the economy. Manwaring's article only mentions the estimate of keys which have been used to open crates. There's no telling how many keys are still in circulation within the economy, which all come from Valve.

        Then there's Steam games stored as gifts, which can be traded for TF2 items. They would add even more value to the economy and Valve's pocket.

          "In early 2011, Forbes reported that Steam sales constituted 50 to 70% of the $4 billion market for downloaded PC games"

          I for one welcome our new Valve overlords.

    .. ok you know why it works, because people can create content for a game the play which is good enough for the publisher to officailly endorse. How many people still play Dust2? How many people won't want to play shipment when it comes out gain.

    On a side note the preorder bonus on Mw3 on steam was a copy of Cod4, which INCLUDES the map they're about to ask people to pay for.

    DLC is 2 things,

    1. Games not finished, but is modular enough to ship with 70% done
    2. Game is finished and has 150% content and millions of dumb side quests, Dev removes 40% of game and then sells it as DLC.

    If more companies released Dev tools and allowed the customer to build on their IP then they would have far more lively communities and people would continue to buy the games long after the street date.


      Are you kidding me - are they releasing "shipment" in a MW3 map pack!!? Isn't that the pokey little map in COD4 with all the containers and the constant dying (back before I traded COD4 it seemed to always come up in Domination games but no-where else)

      No way is that map worth the price of a full map - it would've taken them 10 seconds to put it together back in the day.

    lmg + prone + penetration skill = win but yeah smallest COD map ever releease, was basically booster heaven back in the day.

    Kotaku US amazing us once again, lacking basic reading comprehension or staff that have any idea about the game at hand. If Manwarings article was properly read you would realize that a piece of refined metal is the equivalent to 18 weapons and that keys CANNOT be crafted from metal only bought, instead they are traded for around 2.33 refined. It's abysmal that your article almost completely misses the mark.


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