Valve has been very busy during the past several months, releasing a plethora of new Steam features like Big Picture, Green Light, Linux support and publishing non-gaming titles. The company's latest endeavor though, promises to shake things up even more: a place to buy and sell digital goods called the Steam Community Market.
The Steam Community Market is currently in beta and only supports Team Fortress 2 items, but this is Valve's first step toward a broader market place that plays host to selling digital goods across many games using Steam Wallet funds.
Not only will the market be useful to players, but it'll also help line the pockets of developers and Valve itself. For every item sold on the market, Valve shaves off a flat five percent of the final sell value. It sounds like developers get their own cut of the transaction too -- an amount of their choosing. In this case, TF2 (a Valve game, incidentally) currently nets the company 10 percent of the sale value. That makes the total transaction fee for every TF2 item about 15 percent of the total sale cost -- five for Steam and 10 for the game's developer.
Valve isn't the first company to introduce real-money transactions for digital goods. Blizzard's controversial Diablo 3 auction house is possibly the most infamous example of such a market. Like your typical app store though, Blizzard trims a healthy 30 percent from digital item sales -- that's quite a bit more than Valve's meager five percent, so it'll be interesting to see just how profitable it is.
To access the Steam Community Market, just open up your Steam client and click "Community" and then "Market".
With the advent of a real-life marketplace for game-makers to exploit, developers and publishers have yet another tool at their disposal for monetizing their work -- are we about to see even more F2P titles?