A little more than a week has passed since a bug was discovered in Team Fortress 2 that allowed for a guaranteed drop of a high-value Unusual Hat, and Valve has now responded with a solution that should appease those who exploited the bug, while leaving those who did not with regret for not getting in on the glitch while it was active.
The initial solution was temporary in nature and restricted the trading of these Unusual Hats by marking them as untradeable. Valve responded with the following statement in a recent blog post detailing their solution:
“During our investigation we discovered that a small number of accounts acquired these hats and a smaller portion of those accounts acquired an exceedingly large number of them. Based on this, we've decided that if you currently own one of these Unusual hats, the first one added to your account will be made tradable. Any other Unusual you have received due to the bug will remain permanently trade locked. If you decide that you would rather not have these trade-locked hats on your account, you may instead elect a full refund on any number of them.”
We were wondering how Valve would attempt to balance the interests of the various types of consumers who acquired these hats. Obviously, some consumers learned of the bug and began a spree of acquiring and unboxing Loot Crates in order to maximize the number of Unusual Hats they could acquire. Given that the cost to open a box is standard, at $2.70 CDN for a Mann Co. Supply Crate Key, and the return was a guaranteed unusual that could range in value from as low as fifteen dollars to thousands of dollars, doing so provided no risk to the buyer.
By allowing users to keep the first hat unboxed as tradable, and to keep everything else afterward as untradeable, Valve seems to be rewarding the consumers who exploited the bug. Anyone who made the conscious choice not to exploit the bug because it goes against the spirit of how Loot Crates work, or refrained because they thought they might be punished, has missed out on their own cheap Unusual Hats.
Worse still is that those who engaged in the glitch on a large scale are also being allowed refunds of their initial key purchase if they do not want some of their untradeable hats. This seems rather odd in that it feels as though Valve has rewarded those players who used and abused the glitch, while everyone else receives nothing.
Perhaps this feels so odd because in other popular online games, abusing an exploit for personal gain almost always results in punishments, like temporary or permanent bans, rollbacks to before an exploit was used, or some combination of the two. Valve’s response here seems to be, “Congratulations to everyone who exploited this glitch. You don’t get to trade all your ill-gotten loot, but you do get to keep anything you like and get a refund on what you do not.”
With regards to the economy of the game, Valve minimized the impact that could have occurred. Check out our piece here regarding how exactly the economy works, and why this glitch was problematic up until the hats were marked as untradeable.
Valve states that allowing the first hat unboxed per unique user will result in a Supply increase of only about one month’s worth of unboxing, meaning that the total impact on the economy will be marginal, and little more than a slight blip that should not affect pricing in the long run.
Time will tell how players react to the decision, but at first glance, it certainly feels like the type of action that may frustrate those consumers who purposefully did not engage in the glitch, only to find out they could have abused the exploit with virtually zero downsides.
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