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Team Fortress 2 Hat Market Crash, also known as the Crate Depression, refers to a glitch which made rare hats in Team Fortress 2 that normally sell for between $25-$45 to spawn frequently, completely wrecking the game's hat economy.
On July 26th, 2019, an update to Team Fortress 2 introduced a number of new cosmetics to the game but also a glitch which caused rare "Unusual" hats, which can be worth between $25-$45, to spawn frequently in in-game crates. Traditionally, players would have to purchase the hats or trade with other players to get one, or go through hundreds of in-game crates in the hopes of finding an "Unusual." The glitch made these Unusual crates drop 100% of the time, flooding the market with previously rare and valuable hats, leading the market rate for the hats to plummet and the rate for crates to inflate. For example, Kotaku reported the Skyrim inspired Dragonborn hat, which normally sold for between $25 and $44, plummeted in value to $6.
The glitch led to players flooding the game, raising the game's peak concurrent player count to 93,245, over a third more than the regular peak concurrent player count. Valve quickly tweeted that they had shut down the market while they investigated the issue (shown below, left). They later stated all the Unusuals from bugged crates would be marked as non-tradeable and that there would be an update on the situation after the upcoming weekend (shown below, right).
Online, users joked in various ways about the bug and resulting crash. Reddit user dip_bip joked the event should be called "The Crate Depression." User dualitySimplified posted a chart illustrating the market crash, titling it "Stock Market Crash (1929, colorized)," gaining over 3,700 points (shown below, left). User sanic220 posted a still image from Spider-Man 2 to represent their attitudes towards the economy crash, gaining over 5,100 points (shown below, right).
On August 2nd, 2019, the TF2 Team addressed the glitch in a blog post, referring to the hat situation as "The Crate Depression" (response to glitch shown below).
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.