Steam went nuts for an hour and made a $3 million Counter Strike gun

A currency glitch on Steam’s Community Market this morning meant that listings included a $3 million Counter Strike gun. And you thought the season pass for the new Call Of Duty was expensive.

An error in the system meant that the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian Rupiah was no longer at the correct amount of 1:13,000 and was instead at a 1:1 rate. Yes. Ah.

The Community Market is largely used to sell smaller items such as Team Fortress Hats and Counter Strike guns and this meant that those who use the Rupiah could buy items priced in dollars at a tiny percentage of the intended price. Reversed, this meant that items that were being sold in Rupiah’s were multiplied by 13,000, hence the addition of a few choice million dollar items. Below you can see the spike in pricing which was reflected across a variety of Steam market items.

But could this mistake have been manipulated to to make sellers serious sums of money? “Theoretically, if you had Rupiahs in your wallet, you could buy a ton of the most expensive items in the community market for almost nothing, and then wait for the problem to be fixed and then sell them back into the market for a massive profit,” explains PC Gamer’s Tom Senior.

“But there are two limitations on that. Firstly, Valve have closed the store for a couple of hours to roll back most of the sales made when the error was in effect. Two, the Steam wallet has an upper limit ($500) to the amount of money you can store there, and you can't cash money out of the Steam wallet into your bank account. It's store credit. You can only buy community items with funds you've added to your Steam wallet, so it's an important safety feature in instances like this.”

Steam froze the market for an hour while it fixed the mistakes and rolled items back into seller’s accounts. A statement on the Community Market says the following. "Early this morning, a problem with our currency exchange rate data allowed users who use Indonesian Rupiahs in their Steam wallet to make purchases on the Community Market at heavily discounted prices. We have reverted as many of these purchases as possible. Steam Trading and the Community Market were both disabled while this rollback process was occurring, but are now enabled once again."

This was just an exchange rate error and Steam has now reversed all the purchases made during this time but it's incredible how much this affected the marketplace. It's not quite a stock market crash but Steam is a global affair and an issue like this one can quickly cause chaos and the not insignificant issue of people's cash being at risk.

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Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.