New to TF2? Want to get into the trading scene? Came over from CS:GO or Dota 2? Look no further, just come with me and delve into the basics of trading in Team Fortress 2.
Part I: Basic Overview
In Team Fortress 2, like in CS:GO or Dota 2, there is an economy largely ruled by the community. However, there are also many other factors that play into this economy, because unlike CS:GO, there are more static currencies that can be traded. For example, scrap metal, reclaimed metal, and refined metal. 3 scrap metal is 1 reclaimed metal, and 3 reclaimed metal is 1 refined metal. These are always consistent and never change, making it very easy to set rigid prices on things that are worth less than a key. Craft hats (basic, common hats with no special value) may fluctuate slightly from time to time, but generally stay in the ballpark of 1 refined to 1.33 refined. The idea of metal being an unchangeable currency allows items to keep a set price for an elongated period of time, only being changed as sales prices increase or drop, which will be covered right now!
Part II: Knowing Your PricesAnother integral part of trading in TF2 is knowing what your items are worth and what they're simply not worth. For this, you should use a website named "backpack.tf", as they give a hearty list of almost every single item in the game and what people are willing to pay for them. Items are priced via community voting, meaning that items that frequently sell for a certain price will most likely be voted up or down to that price. The rarer the item, the more likely that the price will be out of date, very flexible, or very inaccurate. For example, many craft hats and other low-value cosmetics will have very accurate prices, while things like unusuals and pricey stranges can have prices that are higher or lower than what people are really selling them for. Always remember to properly value your items and any potential trading partner's items in order to find the most bang for your buck.
Part III: Knowing Your Ability
You can look at graphs, charts, and mull over the best prices all day, every day, but you have to know what you are and aren't capable of handling. If you buy a rarer item and expect to turn it into big profit, you must be willing to wait. If you're impatient, unusual trading isn't advised. If you're extremely new, then trading with paints, spells, and parts is also not advised. Start with small ticket items, such as basic hats or cosmetics, and do some market research if you really want to move into the big stuff quickly. Get a feel for what other people are selling their items for, and try to sell them for an equal, or even better price, as long as you're turning a profit. Don't put any metal or keys into trading that you aren't willing to lose, because there is still another factor that may play into your success...
Part IV: Knowing The EconomyThere is one thing that is wholly out of your control in every single game you trade in, unless you somehow own a large portion of it or a site controlling it: It's the economy. The TF2 economy in its current state is relatively stable, though there is one caveat. Remember the currencies I mentioned earlier? Well, right now, they aren't exactly converting in a newbie's favor...
That's right, it's the key. "But isn't the key supposed to be the most stable form of currency in the game?!", you may ask. Well, in terms of real life money, yes, it is incredibly stable. But in terms of the conversion to and from refined metal (shortened to '"ref" in this picture), the key has risen dramatically as a result of the lack of a metal sink in TF2. If you're unsure what a metal sink is, it's basically an in-game feature that destroys metal in return for another item in the game, which reduces the amount of total metal in the economy. The only metal sink in TF2 is the option to craft a hat for 3 refined, which many users opt not to do because they'll most likely not profit from the endeavor. Keys used to be approximately 3 ref, but have risen throughout the years and gone to about 50 ref, and the price is still growing as you read this. In a nutshell, understand this: If you're attempting to grow a small inventory and build up keys to get into unusual trading, you must be very patient and very willing to spend a lot of your free time trading. Don't expect to grow an inventory overnight without a hefty cash infusion.
Now, utilize your newfound knowledge! Hop on to a trade server, look in the classifieds of trading websites, or chat with some savvy friends. Maybe they'll be willing to give you your first taste of profit! Or, you can look on YouTube and Steam for more advanced trading guides that will go in-depth on certain features. Whatever you choose to do, stay safe, don't get scammed, and make some sweet money!