The DotA2 Treasure Key costs $2.49 / £1.49 (~$2.48) / 1.79€ (~$2.45) at "retail". However, most of the listings on the first few pages of the Steam Community Market entry are around $2.60. It's not just a fluke: I easily sold four of my keys for $2.60 last night. Why would anybody buy them for higher than retail?
People really do buy those more expensive keys,and they even do it in hundreds.
Possible reasons are :
Not knowing about Dota 2 store,by a mistake,done by new players,people that think keys can be dropped and sold only on market...Or as means of trade/exchange with a friend.
There are records of some newly introduced keys being more expensive than other keys in some countries for short periods.So people that buy it in country A can sell it at higher price to people in country B where people still profit by buying those overpriced keys.
Left image has price of all keys equal,the right one has the new key somewhat more expensive than the others.
5.49 R$ is about 2.43 $ which means even though the key is more expensive than the other ones on the right side it is still cheaper than the keys on the left side.
Valve as corporate entity is obliged to follow bunch of laws,and since they serve people internationally they have to follow even more laws that are different for each country.After those laws,taxes and currency exchange rates keys or items might end up cheaper or more expensive in some countries.
People selling on community market are ignored by IRS and taxes put on by their country (except the share steam takes),at least for their first ~150 sales after which they have to fill out a form of residence.Which means people can end up selling things cheaper than valve can to some other countries.
There are also whole articles about illegal keys/items,and faulty or stolen credit cards...basically hackers,and thieves trying to "wash" their money over the steam.They can sell it at lower prices than steam store,or even at higher prices (like the previous statement) where they profit even more since they don't care about the share valve takes.
If you try to buy items on steam with too new/old credit card steam can flag you payment method as "unsafe" and all items bought while flagged will be untradable for a certain period of time,but steam market items will be tradeable.So people from previos statement and some traders could profit.
[Edit] Dota 2 keys are no longer for sale, which explains why they are now consistently above $2.50. However, my old answer (below) still applies to TF2.
I admit it: I've bought TF2 and Dota 2 keys off the market for over retail-price before.
The reason is that I don't play either of those games, and don't have them installed, but still need keys for Steam-trading.
So to buy a key, my options are:
- Install the game. Wait for the 8+ GB download to finish, then wait some more while the installer runs and the game loads up. Then learn the interface, and jump through whatever hoops are needed to use the in-game store.
- Or, pay an extra $0.02
My choice was pretty obvious.