TF2 Monetary Data Back to Earbuds Price in Keys and USD

Money supply of a virtual economy

Ever since the Mann-Conomy Update on September 30, 2010, people have been speculating on the actual size of the economy in Team Fortress 2. At this moment, there are also sites that take random samples of users who visit trade servers. However, biased samples of regular traders may significantly distort the accounting procedure.

This report is produced by taking samples of 42 million SteamID out of the first 100 million (accounts before 2012-03-12). The data is grouped into 10 SteamID ranges of 10 Million each, and then extrapolated to reflect the entire population. The figures on this page may not be exact, but the percentages should be.

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*Live counter for illustrative purposes only

"I had a long talk with base1024 (the OP) whereby I was convinced his numbers were based on solid data. He also asked me to review the data, methods, and even some of the calculating source code he used. "
-Mattie (SteamRep Admin) (Original Post)

How many users have trading privileges?

In short, at least 4 million users have/had trading privilege.

Roughly, 4% of SteamID are Premium Team Fortress 2 accounts. This figure varies from 1.4% to 8% depending on join date. All other valid Steam accounts are classified as Free to Play, even if they did not download TF2. Most non-existent IDs are from years ago.

Backpacks are visible from public even if Steam Community profile is not set up yet. The majority of backpacks are not private.

How much money do we have for trading?

As of this writing, the economy has roughly 780,000 Refined, 190,000 Keys.

There are 160,000 Bill's Hat, of which 36,000 (22%) are circulating; 110,000 Earbuds, of which 20,000 (18%) are circulating, shown in red.

The majority of "rare" promotional items are not circulating. Therefore, originals are not included in the Money Supply. The spot value of currency (excluding originals) is around USD$1,600,000.

Note: "Original" is defined as Current ID = Original ID, not by Item Origin.

How often do we see each currency?

Not very often. Less than 1/10 of Premium users have Refined Metal, only 1% of Premium users have Keys in their backpack. The 190,000 Keys are concentrated in 40,000 backpacks. The Buds and Bills figure includes original owners.

How many are rich enough to buy my stuff?

For Unusual trades, the pie chart shows that most non-original Earbuds owners only have 1 Buds. If someone is selling an Unusual worth 2 Buds or more, only 2000 people can afford it in pure currency if barter is not preferred. For God-Tier Unusual trades like Team Captain or Modest, we will be looking at the top 1% of Earbuds owners. (Originals are excluded)

For normal hat trades, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have more than 2 Refined in their backpack.

Keys are relatively concentrated in certain backpacks and only 1% of the 1% Premium users have more than 50 Keys.

How even is the distribution of wealth?

Overall, the distribution is quite even. Refined Metal distribution is mostly correlated with join date, i.e. more playing, more metal. Keys seem to be slightly more abundant in two certain groups.

The Original Buds pattern may help us determine the origin of Traded Buds.

New Premium accounts (80,000,001 - 90,000,000) are very active in Trading. Note that Free to Play began in that range.

Bonus: How do we determine the account range?

If the steamID32 is STEAM_0:X:Y, X is either 0 or 1 while Y is allocated continuously. Generally, 2 times Y will give the account series in the table.

Left 4 Dead 2 is released in November 2009, Mac Update is June 2010, Mann-Conomy Update is September 2010, Free-to-Play is June 2011.

The rate which SteamID grows is increasing. It will reach 110 million users in July/August 2012.


Almost every government in the world releases Money Supply data, it would be useful to have such data publication for the Team Fortress 2 Economy as well.

As a final reminder, all figures are approximate (read the introduction). Free to Play and Private backpacks are excluded.

There will not be a complete scan or a second scan from this site.