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Steam’s New Community Market Beta Goes Live, Lets Players Buy And Sell In-Game Items Using Steam Wallet Funds

News & Rumors Steam

Though we may take it for granted these days, Steam Trading might just represent one of the most significant innovations in the field of in-game community interaction in recent years. Trading games, coupons, and items, all within the Steam community. The Team Fortress 2 economy alone was estimated last year to be worth 20 million dollars – and that was a very conservative estimate, made only 6 months after the game had become free-to-play.

And a lot of people have made some a lot of money by buying and selling these in-game items. But since so much of that activity takes place outside the Steam ecosystem (in the so-called gray market), it could be quite difficult to track what’s going on in the marketplace at large. But it seems as though Valve have found a way to remedy that problem in a pretty unique way. Read on!

Steam’s New Community Market Beta Goes Live, Lets Players Buy And Sell In-Game Items Using Steam Wallet Funds

As part of their ongoing efforts to transform Team Fortress hats into a one-world currency, Valve have just introduced the Steam Community Market, currently in open beta. For the time being, the beta is limited to Team Fortress 2 items, and only crates, keys and consumable items such as tools, tickets, paints or Strange weapon parts can be bought or sold from the Market. According to the official Community Market Steam Group, support for more games will be introduced during the New Year.

The Market itself is designed to expand the Steam economy beyond simple trading, whether it’s in or out of a game. Players can buy or sell in-game items with real money, using digital Steam Wallet funds. Items are placed on sale through a very simple, surprisingly quick process – and purchasing items is just as fast and painless. There’s no support for auctions or bidding, which means you can’t buy items using other items. Only time will tell if Valve will ever add that sort of functionality to the Market; but personally, I don’t think any additional payment options or systems would harm the intuitive, accessible nature of the Market, so long as they were properly integrated within its framework.

In any case, navigation is very smooth (though filter options are badly needed, especially to sort between prices), and it’s incredibly easy to find what you’re looking for, at very affordable prices. Make no mistake: this is a very well-designed, and quite frankly brilliant system. By playing Valve’s free games, and obtaining free items within those games, players can actually make money simply by playing free games. And since Valve collects a minor Steam Transaction Fee from each and every exchange that takes place on the Market (5% of any given Market transaction, with a minimum of 1 cent per each transaction; there’s game-specific transaction fees as well, such as the TF2 Fee, which is 10% of any given TF2 transaction), they are still making quite a bit of money from the Market. A very interesting approach, for sure.

But the real genius of it lies in the fact that through the use Steam Wallet funds (which cannot be exchanged back into real money), the Steam ecosystem remains entirely a closed circuit of sorts – whatever money you make within the Market isn’t going out of the Steam economy. You’re either going to spend it on Steam games or in-game items – which means that no matter what, at the end of the day; the publisher, developer, and the community item creator are all still going to get their fair share. What else can I say, apart from how you can definitely tell they’ve got a very experienced economist on staff at Valve?

So as we can all see, it’s a very well-conceived system which promises numerous benefits for not only the Steam economy, but also for the Steam platform as a whole. I’ll definitely be watching this with great interest. If there’s anything else you’re curious about, then check out Steam Support’s official Community Market FAQ.

11 Comments

  1. So far I’ve made enough from trading TF2 items to buy both the first Splinter Cell and F.E.A.R. I can’t wait for it to open up fully to all the other items.

  2. Hey Vic,
    first of all I love your site, have been reading it for about a year now and you have brought my attention to several topics I would otherwise not have known about.
    Since you did an article on the “Steambox” rumors I was wondering if you were aware of this: http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/8/3744314/gabe-newell-valve-console-living-room-steam-box .

    Btw: I´m certain the comments section is not the ideal place to post this but I honestly could not find a contact page or something similar.

    • We do have a contact e-mail on our About page, but the comments section is just fine as well! I am aware of that particular tidbit, but I think it’s a bit too inconclusive and murky for such an important topic.
      Don’t get me wrong, I’m as interested in finding out more about the Steam Box as anyone else, but I believe it’d be best if I only properly discuss it when the time is right – when we get a more substantial announcement.

  3. already made 0,39 eur from crates :D not much but still feel much :P . Can just imagine what rare/vintage hats will go for etc.

  4. Sorry for don’t write in english. (Use the Google Translator)

    Olá Lambda Generation,

    Meu nome é Igor, sou brasileiro e acompanho esse site desde 2011 por ser um grande fã de Half-Life e da Valve em geral. E é a primeira vez que comento aqui. Quero primeiro, parabenizar a você Vic (desculpe se existe mais alguém na equipe do site, mas só conheço você) por trazer sempre um conteúdo bem informativo e divertido de ler. Não aguento mais esperar por HL3, tento até esquecer desse game para não ficar maluco de tanto querer saber o que acontecerá depois da cena final de HL2: EP2 e…QUEM É O G-MAN? hahaha. Quanto mais falsos ARGs vejo aqui, mais maluco fico. (imagino que não devo ser o único).

    Enfim, continue com o bom trabalho, pois acredito que esse site tem um potencial enorme. Mesmo vendo os resumos da semana no ValveTime, volto aqui para ler seus textos.

    Boa sorte na sua vida e… na sua meia-vida hahaha

    Igor Ritter

    • If you do not understand something in my comment (google translator is Sucks), I rewrite it in English.

    • Here’s a translation of Igor’s comment in English:

      Hello Lambda Generation,

      My name is Igor. I am Brazilian and I have followed this site since 2011 because I’m a big fan of Half-Life and Valve in general. This is the first time I’m commenting here. I wanted first to thank you, Vic (sorry if there are other people on the website’s team, but you’re the only one I know) for always bringing content that is informative and fun to read. I can’t stand waiting for HL3. I try to forget about it to stay sane since I want to know so badly what happens after the final scene in HL2: EP2…. WHO IS THE G-MAN? hahaha. I go a little crazier with each new fake ARG. (I’d imagine I’m not the only one).

      Anyway, keep up the good work. I believe this site has enormous potential. Even after seeing the news round-ups on ValveTime, I come back here to read the text articles.

      Good luck in life… and your “half-life” hahaha

      Igor Ritter

      • Thank you very much for all the kind words, Igor (and thank you, Pikminiman for kindly translating them), no matter which language they are in!
        Though I am the site’s only writer (but only for now), there are quite a few others on our site staff (for our web administration, web design, and video projects); and we all love what we do – we won’t be stopping any time soon. In the meantime, thank you all for your continued support!

  5. I do like this idea and I know some people who will assuredly take advantage of it. However, does the article imply that Steam Wallet funds were able to be exchanged for real money in the past? I’m just asking for clarity, since I’m very ignorant of Workshop items and how they pay their makers.

    • No, Steam Wallet funds have never been able to be exchanged for real money. In fact, the Market happens to be the first time players can actually transfer Steam Wallet funds from one account to another. Community Workshop developers are paid via royalty checks, if I recall correctly.

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