Read the new book all about Team Fortress 2 trading and the TF2 Spreadsheet.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trade Scanning Software question cont'd...

Another trader had a follow-up question about our Trade Scanning software that monitors actual trades to give us pricing information...(along with our team of expert traders of course, can't forget them).

"How exactly does it work? I mean does it connect to the Steam API and how do you know a price is real and not just a wild trade or something?  Wouldn't a voting system be better?

- Jimmy Fallon's Gangsta Persona"

A quick re-cap of our response to a previous question:

  • First off, our software runs 24/7/365. It is still a work in progress and for our site revamp we are going to have it integrated into the site so that we are real-time. It shows prices of trades that occur and the value in keys and/or metal that is exchanged. For now, I go through the output which is a mysql database and examine each trade.
  • Many of the trades from the software (80-90%) confirm prices already on the spreadsheet. So if you don't see a price change, it often means that is just where a price has 'settled'. If a trade shows a price different from the spreadsheet I try to confirm this with feedback from my pricers as well as publicly listed prices for items (outpost, tp, trade servers). About half the time a trade is not for the price listed, there is no confirmation in the marketplace. In that case, the price stays the same. What causes this? Typically a quicksell, someone just trying to liquidate. The other half of the time, the price has indeed shifted and after the same research as above, we adjust the price on the sheet. And if there are multiple trades in the database showing a real change in price then we look for confirmation but ultimately require less proof since it is already there. Most often in this case the price is adjusted.
In response to Jimmy's (great name btw) question:

While we can't divulge exactly what happens with the software, it does track trades using the Steam API.  We see the relevant information: the item, the quality (genuine, vintage, dirty, etc), the date and then a value that was exchanged for it.  It can be in keys or metal or both.  When we have it tweaked to be real-time we will have a 'ticker'.  More on that later.

With trades that are wildly out of the market-price range, based on standard deviations, they are automatically ignored.  Anything that sneaks through, say, for a new item that has no average price yet, as I said we inspect each trade so I will just see the discrepancy then.

Voting on item values is not a good alternative to actual trade prices.  I get emails every day from people who think their item is worth a HOUWAR because it has the same rarity.  There are teams of people out there whose goal is to bump the prices of their own items.  Remember the B.M.O.C. back in the early Spring?  Just like the stock market, prices are what people pay (not what owners think their loot is worth).


  1. I agree with voting not being to accurate, on some sites where outpost trade ads are being used to vote on can easily be faked. There is no way to verify an outpost trade, it could be fake ads with multi accounts used to bump/make false offers in order to lower/raise prices.

    And the same can be said for tracking actual trades, are there ways to filter out people simply transfering items from their multi accounts or friends just swapping items at no particular value..

    And now that people know there is tracking software what is to prevent them from using multi's to conduct fake transactions to influence this tracking software.

    Perhaps someone should create a base value system around the actual item stats with a supply/demand scale that adjusts accordingly as more copies of the items enters the game.

    Either way it's still suggested values, and good to have a rough estimate.

    1. We do take countermeasures to ensure that phony trades are not getting through. I won't go into details but we are very alert to this possibility.