Meet The Entrepreneur: Steam Market Enters Beta

By Nathan Grayson on December 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

Do you fancy yourself a go-getter? Someone with big, earth-shaking ideas and the wide-eyed capacity to realize them? Well then, go save/destroy the world, you mad genius, you. But for everyone else, Valve’s now offering the opportunity to salvage your savaged entrepreneurial dreams. By selling hats, naturally. Yes, the real-money-based Steam Community Market‘s now open for business, and Team Fortress 2’s its all-too-willing test bed.

For now, the market’s limited to TF2 consumables and tools, but “additional items from Team Fortress 2 as well as items from other games” will enter the mix after the beta reaches its conclusion, according to a handy FAQ.

Other current limits include the Steam Wallet balance, which tops off at $200 as of now. So basically, if an item costs more than that, you’re out of luck. However, Valve added that “We may be raising the Steam Wallet balance limit, or otherwise changing this restriction, in the future.”

Naturally, there are also fees involved. The Steam Transaction Fee is described entirely nebulously as “based on the item cost,” while the Team Fortress 2 fee totals out to a cool 10 percent lopped right off the top. Also, it’s important to note that your earnings will become Steam Wallet funds – not paper cash applicable to this strange flesh reality of ours. So if you were planning to play TF2 to put your kids through college, eat, or do anything other than give Valve more of your money, think again.

So, in short, commerce! Sometimes it’s neat. Other times, it’s evil. Now glance down at your custom-made “neat or evil” watch. What time is it right now?

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84 Comments »

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  1. SkittleDiddler says:

    A fee? How capital of them.

  2. SlappyBag says:

    I have some ones and zeroes that I need to sell; anybody interested in a:

    01010000111010101000100011110010010100100005

    ?

    (Also this does mean you could in theory support your gaming habits by playing TF2, though would that leave any time to play the games you’ve purchased?)

    • DerNebel says:

      Warning, Incoming rant.
      Hello I have some atoms I want to sell, mainly carbon and hydrogen, anyone interested? Please stop doing that 1’s and 0’s thing, it’s really, really dumb. You are here on RPS which makes me assume that you’ve bought this weird thing called a ‘video game’ which consists of nothing but 1’s and 0’s in such a glorious pattern that a game comes out. Failing that, you probably own a cd or a dvd or an OS you’ve paid for. Even if that’s not true you definetely have a computer which sole purpose is to process 1’s and 0’s. That doesn’t make it less real now does it?
      Rant over. All’s clear.

      I believe you can use your Steam Wallet to buy games on steam, so in theory I guess you could. Good luck though.

      • lordcooper says:

        Thank you!

      • InternetBatman says:

        This is absolutely true.

      • Donjo says:

        “Hello I have some atoms I want to sell, mainly carbon and hydrogen, anyone interested? ” is one of the best opening lines to any rant ever. Thank you.

      • Yglorba says:

        “PêˆòR?” With some extra zeros on the end and… is that a five?

        I want my money back.

      • SlappyBag says:

        Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying its not worth anything (I’m a 3D Modeller/Web Dev, I live off making 10101001s =P)

        Its just interesting thought that these are what is essentially being traded is all.

        Also, I’ll totally buy some carbon atoms off you.

    • Premium User Badge

      welverin says:

      If you acquire your TF2 items by idling while your asleep, at work/school, or otherwise away, then yes it would leave you time to play the games you buy from selling items.

    • Premium User Badge

      Fontan says:

      You put a 5 in there, now it’s ruined.

  3. Zanchito says:

    But what is this? Can I trade my Steam games for Steam credit? Steam inventory items? Is it anything like eBay?

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      Depends on where you live:

      Point is, in the European Union (The Netherlands specificity) you already can. You already have the right to sell your steam games for cold cash and steam is not allowed to take a cut from it and must comply based on multiple Supreme Court rulings. Problem is, would you like to sue Valve for selling one game second hand?

      I hope you will, especially because I do not have the luxury of enforcing such laws to my own benefit.

      On the other hand. Making a market place does make the Steam-infrastructure one step closer to compliance with European rules, So I like it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Luringen says:

        Seems like Valve is going to comply, but as of now you don’t own the games. Maybe once the system is done, we will own our games again.

        • Premium User Badge

          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          As long as Valve can disable your Steam account at will, you will own neither the games you have on Steam nor the money you have put in your Steam wallet.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Not necessarily. IANAL, but I think that by EU law EU citizens do own those games and Valve has the obligation to allow them access to their games whether through Steam or otherwise. But, you know, I could be mistaken.

      • MetzgerHorst says:

        i already made 0,14€ since yesterday, selling crates… the point is i dont care about transaction fees and i would be immensely pleased to see the possibility of selling some of the many unplayed games in my library. and since i live in the EU, that wish might come true sooner or later.

        what i’m saying is, steam already got (most of) my money. selling items or games on the marketplace to get some (virtual) money back which allows me to buy more games i wont play is a thing i fully support.

        • Loque says:

          Selling used games work in the real world, where “used” means that you can see stuff like missing items, scratches and so on. The game physically loses some value. But if you do the same on Steam, what does it happen?

          Let’s say I sell Skyrim for 10$ because I never play it. What’s the difference between my Skyrim copy and the official Steam’s copy? They’re the same. By selling it you just change the owner. So why would you ever buy the full-priced version, if I sell it for 10$? There wouldn’t be any added benefit and Valve would lose money over time.

          • MetzgerHorst says:

            that is certainly true, still i should have every right (and i do) to sell wares i do not like to own anymore. a publisher releases an overrated game for 60$ AGAIN? well maybe i can try it out without having to pirate it since the marketplace is flooded with cheap copies coming from disappointed people. the prices will regulate themselves based on the amount of people actually buying it and reselling it. nothing wrong about that.

          • codename_bloodfist says:

            You might want to read up on how used markets work or ask someone with formal education in economics (i.e. not TotalBiscuit, whose entire experience consists of working as a salesboy in a game store for a couple of years). When done correctly, they’re very much to the benefit of the industry as a whole (not to be confused with one specific manufacturer). And, no, it doesn’t make any significant difference whether the product is digital or not.

          • Loque says:

            I still don’t understand how selling used games could benefit Valve. As stated above, what would be the added value of letting playerA sell Skyrim for 10$ to playerB, when the same item (digital game) costs 40$ on the store?

          • MetzgerHorst says:

            well, since all the money coming into the system cannot leave it again, and there are no further production costs involved apart from download traffic… it wont harm valve. at most it would harm publishers. but its not about what valve wants, its about them obeying laws. and still make a profit from it.

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            Aninhumer says:

            Sure, no money leaves the system, but less money will be going into the system. People who would otherwise be spending the full price on a game will now be able to buy it cheaper in the market, likely only days after release. And to make it worse, since the seller gets steam credit, they likely lose some income from them as well. So effectively, a few days after release they’re only getting a relatively small fraction of the full price. Now it’s possible the reduced price may lead to more sales, but in that case they’d just be better off dropping the full price so they don’t have to give out steam credit.

          • codename_bloodfist says:

            >Sure, no money leaves the system, but less money will be going into the system.

            No, this is entirely wrong and precisely why I suggested that the individuals involved read up on this. In the roughest terms, you have individuals of different income levels purchasing products. Class A individuals are likely to buy at release (i.e. full price), class B will rarely buy at release, class C will -never- buy at release. What used sales do is: Class B can suddenly buy newer games, with the money going to Class A that can buy even more games. Class C can now also buy slightly less newer games from Class B, giving B more money to give to A. As a result, you have a more fluent monetary flow, which ultimately puts more money into the system as a whole through larger number of purchases by Level A supported by B and C. If this is still too abstract: Nigel the Teenager can now buy products immediately, meaning the money goes directly into the video games industry and doesn’t get spent on crisps and 7up, while Nigel awaits hitting the $60 mark.

            Again, please, do read about it before making vacuous assumptions.

          • Panda Powered says:

            Valve probably wouldn’t lose anything when they get a 10% cut of every transaction. They have proven again and again that lower prices and wider availability brings exponentially more sales and profits than full price.

      • Xerian says:

        And said law is nothing but bullshit created by people whom know nothing about what they speak of. As with most videogame, computer and internet laws. Complete and utter bullshit created by morons.

        • Aedrill says:

          Do you want to back your opinion somehow, our do you choose to be ignored?

  4. Eddy9000 says:

    Great, now there’ll be even more people idling in the bases and spamming the talk-bar with offers to trade. If we’re really lucky the servers will get flooded by Chinese gold farmers.

    • Godwhacker says:

      Yeah, those Chinese Gold Farmers really need to fill their Steam wallets up so they can buy… er…

      • enobayram says:

        Well you could probably earn Steam Wallet funds, buy steam games with them and “gift” it to others in exchange for blessed paper.

        • MrLebanon says:

          you *could*
          but if valve sees you gifting too much you get flagged and in trouble.

          There was a European gentlemen who would buy games cheaper in his region and sell them in other regions through steam gifting (i believe he wasnt making a profit, merely sharing the savings)

          regardless, steam got mad at him and I think he got a ban he had to appeal. They agreed but suspended his gifting ability

          something like that anyhow

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Capitalism, ho! When you can actually game the system, they break the rules to make you comply. Just like, say, counting cards in casinos.

  5. NathaI3 says:

    So basically you can sell TF2 items to other players, they possibly pay real money and you get steam credit? Sounds like Valve are getting more than a 10% fee

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      It’s not much different from how Valve refuse to do cash refunds for broken games. It all stays in their system.

      • Xerian says:

        Ah, but they do give you refunds for broken games. If you contact support which no doubt most people are too dumb or lazy to.
        I’ve been given full refunds time after time. And if you buy a broken game, then it is honestly ones own fault.

        • Jenks says:

          I got a refund from support, after a month of back and forth with them and a complaint to the BBB.

          I don’t know how buying Spore, a game by an AAA studio, was my fault. The registration process was broken and having a Steam key would not allow you to play online. Valve said it was an EA problem, and EA said it was a Valve problem. When I finally gave up and asked Valve for a refund, I was told I couldn’t have one because I had played the game for an hour. The truth is that I had launched the game and couldn’t get past the login screen because my key wouldn’t register.

          I love Steam, but on this issue you’re 1000% wrong and you should shut up.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          What a douchebag thing to say. I’m with Jenks here.

          I’m fully aware that Valve gives refunds. I never said they didn’t — what I said was “they refuse to give cash refunds for broken games” which as far as I’m aware is true. They give credit refunds, and as I’ve pointed out below, Steam Wallet credit is not cash.

          Related story: I’ve gotten two credit refunds from Valve for two provably broken games, two games that were misleadingly advertised in the Steam Store as containing features they did not actually contain. I guess it was all my fault though because I didn’t do my research*; how fucking compassionate of Valve to have pity on me and grant me a “one-time refund” not only once, but twice!

          *sarcasm: catch it.

  6. Gnoupi says:

    What is not clear yet is if “Steam items” will be also marketable later. So typically, games in the inventory.

    If they are, then it will allow them to take over sites like Steamtrades.com, with adding their own fee. Would be smart on their part. It would also make trades which are made with money safer.

  7. apocraphyn says:

    Valve’s take on Blizzard’s RMAH, then? (only without the ability to get ‘real’ money back from the system, it seems)

  8. f_zul says:

    So let’s sum it up. Valves get fee for your transaction, you get an item or steam credits…
    We are quite free to rephrase it in another way – Valves get fee for your transaction, you get nothing out of it. Except of course the possibility to conduct another transaction lol.

    • Loque says:

      If you never-ever add money to your wallet, this is a way to exchange ingame items for other games. Play game A, sell stuff, save the money to your wallet and spend it for game B.

      By selling something you could easily buy one of the many low-cost indie games, for example, or just try to save enough to get a discounted AAA title.

      As long as money is not affecting the gaming experience I really welcome this tool.

    • Godwhacker says:

      There’s a difference between “rephrasing” something and completely changing the meaning of it.

      It’s a way of selling hats that doesn’t involve as much risk as doing it through PayPal, or as stupid a currency as keys. Valve provide the service, and so take a cut. I’ve never been involved in this kind of thing, but clearly there’s a market for it- both in TF2 and other games with trading.

      • Loque says:

        There is a market for everything, I really don’t see any problem with that. It’s stuff that would sit in our inventory under a pile of dust anyway, right? Why should Valve offer this tool for free, it wouldn’t make any sense.

        Also, business is business… but at least Valve is not greedy as Blizzard.

  9. FrostySprite says:

    10% is a low amount, guys. I can’t see why anyone would complain.

    Anyway not interested until real cash can be earned.

    • Loque says:

      You DO earn real cash and ou store it in the Steam’s wallet. Valve is not supposed to be an ATM where you go to withdraw money before going out with your friends. But you can save some coins to get discounted/free games on the Steam platform.

      Of course people will ALWAYS complain. I mean, there are iPhone users (a 700$ item) who complain about apps that cost 1.99$… what would you expect?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        How does credit in the form of Steam Wallet funds equate to real cash? Once you put something into the Wallet, it stays there. Until you spend it with Steam anyway.

        • Loque says:

          It IS real cash, because you can spend it to buy Steam games. It’s just locked, but it’s real. If you have 0$ in your Steam wallet and sell some hats for 1$ each, you will get enough money to buy complete games on Steam. Without the shop, you would need to spend your bank’s/PayPal’s money.

          The shop offers a new opportunity for those who don’t want to cash-out money from their credit card, bank, paypal, etc. Using a fresh Steam account you can play a free game (Team Fortress 2), earn items and sell them on the store. The money you get from those items can be used to purchase any game on the Steam platform.

          Short version: by playing a free game you can earn money and -later- buy Borderlands 2 (or any other game) for free.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Ugh. It is NOT real cash. Once real money is added to a Steam Wallet, it becomes digital currency that is spendable only on items that are available either through the Steam Store or the Mann Co. Store.

            Steam is not a bank, and they shouldn’t be charging transaction fees for digital currency that can’t be spent outside of the Steam ecosystem.

          • Loque says:

            You have a fee because you’re using an ecommerce platform. You pay for the service.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            You pay for the service because Steam wants a part of the “profits”. I doubt the overhead on this thing could seriously demand a 10% charge.

          • zeroskill says:

            Right, those 10% will buy everybody at Valve a new yacht! They are so clever! How do they come up with those nefarious masterplans all the time.

            Mark my words, those 0.02$ per Team Fortress 2 paint they are making will eventually sum up. They basically can close the Steam Store right now and swtich to making a fortune by ripping off Team Fortress 2 players that sell hats! Genius!

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            zeroskill, are you even familiar with TF2’s rabid fanbase? There are plenty of them that are happy enough to spend $100+ on digital cosmetic items. Valve are going to make a tidy profit off of this trade scheme, and they are going to do it by using a system that has already been in place for well over a year.

          • zeroskill says:

            SkittleDiddler, please enlighten us more with your deep knowledge of Team Fortress 2. It’s very interesting. Valve sure are making so much money with the selling of Team Fortress 2 items in the cash shop. Considering 90% of those items are being made by community contributers. That damn Valve basically abusing the good skin making people of Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. Damn Valve, why are they so evil.

            AmIright

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Wait, are people disputing that this is being done for profit? Of course it’s being done for profit; Valve is offering a service in exchange for a fee for acting as middleman, like, I dunno, every service of that nature ever. They’re basically selling a combination of security and convenience that the grey market doesn’t offer. You can still use the grey market unless Valve takes steps to shut it down, which is either completely legitimate on their part or is reportable to your country’s consumer protection agency.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            @zeroskill: there are plenty of examples of TF2 items selling outside the confines of Steam for triple-digit amounts. It doesn’t take a deep knowledge of the community to use Google.

            Anyway, I’m not arguing the morality of Valve’s decision to charge transaction fees. I’m arguing that they’re using a specious excuse to justify it — why the hell do they suddenly feel the urge to start charging technical and administrative fees for a service they’ve essentially been running for over a year now?

      • Premium User Badge

        Dilapinated says:

        real cash =/= store credit.

        I am happy about the new market, but seriously, don’t conflate the two. It’s blatantly false.

        • Loque says:

          Store credit IS real cash. You can’t withdraw it, but you can use it to buy anything else on the store. Like stated above, if I want to buy Borderlands 2 but can’t spend 49$ I still have the option to play Team Fortress 2 for free and sell items until I reach the desired sum. A fresh Steam account can earn money without initial fundings, that’s not bad at all.

          • The Random One says:

            That’s like saying a “free pizza” voucher is cash that you can only spend on a particular pizza place to buy pizza.

          • version46 says:

            “Store credit IS real cash. You can’t withdraw it, but you can use it to buy anything else on the store.” Seriously, that is the meaning of store credit. Real Cash has to have the ability to be withdrawn.

          • Jenks says:

            In the US all coupons have a real cash value, usually 1/100 of a cent, so that pizza voucher IS cash.

            /retarded contrarian

  10. Kiytan says:

    Granted the D3 RMAH can be deposited into actual money, however valves system doesn’t completely screw with the blance of the game, like the RMAH does. So while I don’t think it’s any less “greedy” than blizzard, it sure as hell has less of an effect on the games.

    • Loque says:

      This store is a Valve-only version of eBay. Nothing more, nothing less.

  11. Karuji says:

    I’m wondering why people are comparing this to the D3 RMAH when it is more like the Gem system in GW2. Since there is a flow of real money into a system but no way to remove the real money™ from the system.

    With regards to what this means for the resale of Steam game. I believe that if Valve there is a resale of games on Steam it will only be for games purchased directly from Steam, and then it will be based off the original purchase price. So you can’t resell things like the game you have on Steam from HIB.

    • Loque says:

      I doubt Steam will allow us to resell any game, be it Steam-based or not. Because used games would be essentially identical to the Steam’s “original” versions. So why should I spend 49$ for Borderlands 2, if a friend is selling it for 10$? In this case Valve would miss the 49$ sale, in favor of a much cheaper “player to player” sale of only 10$.

      • Kiytan says:

        of which they probably take a 10%+ cut, so while they wouldn’t make as much (not sure how much of a cut valve get normally) they still get something, so i guess it just comes down to if they can shift the volume or not.

        • Premium User Badge

          Aninhumer says:

          They normally get 30% of the full price, 10% of a reduced price is a significant drop in revenue per sale.

      • Karuji says:

        I’m also doubtful that Valve would offer a resell feature, and I’m actually rather opposed to it , as I believe it would be detrimental to Steam sales which I find to be a positive force in the industry.

        But lets say Valve has to implement some form of resale system. I would be will to bet a copy of Super Hexagon that it would give the seller credit to their Steam Wallet based on some percentage of the current value of the game.

        This means it would function as Gamestop does where is acts as an intermediary for the sales, but it will differ in that you can’t buy a second hand game from Steam since with digital games there is no difference between first and second hand games, and the deep discounting on Steam means that games from Steam are easily affordable.

        I hope that clarifies my point a bit :)

      • zeroskill says:

        I can see a similar problem with the Team Fortress 2 items shop and eventually the Dota 2 items shop. This reselling of items for money might eventually hurt community contributers to some degree. Who will actually buy items from the in-game stores, and with it support the people who make those items, when they can just buy it through the market for less?

        Valve has to consider this, I think it would be for the best if they would not allow community contributed items to be sold in this market.

        For now they allow only some consumables to be sold this way. We will see how this will turn out. However they have to make those considerations.

  12. nasenbluten says:

    They should do the same but for reselling actual games and not (crappy) hats or TF2 items. But I guess that doesn’t accommodate to their interests.

  13. derbefrier says:

    I saw this last night so I put up a can of green paint and a name tag just to check it out for 50 cents a piece and they sold as soon as I posted them. Now I have a whole dollar in my steam wallet. Play TF2 enough and I can get free games on steam? Count me in, wheres the nearest idle server?

  14. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    I bought a crate for 0.01$ and sold it for 0.06$. This is amazing

  15. Sayori says:

    At first I was like – YAY :D
    .. but then I – NAY ;<
    For example The Rainblower is completely useless and it's traded for 0.02 ref ?! Give it 6 months. The Rainblower will be about 80% of Mann Co store's original price.
    I'm not a trader, yet I'm concern.

  16. MrLebanon says:

    I’m gonna start Idling in TF2 again

    • zeroskill says:

      Those 3 hours a week idling that yield you items is gonna totally be worth it. You are aware that there is a weekly item drop limit right? right. You could almost make a dollar a week.

  17. InternetBatman says:

    I hope they expand this to Dota 2. I have a bunch of crap I can clear out.