Steam Community Marketplace Preview

Do you have a bunch of rare and expensive in-game items for a game you don’t play anymore? Maybe a couple of Steam coupons that you know you’ll never use. Well you are in luck, because Steam’s Community Marketplace is now in beta.

What is Steam’s Community Marketplace? It’s a place for you to sell your Steam goodies to other Steam users. As of this point in the Beta this includes Steam coupons, gifts, and in-game items for Valve games. But you’re not trading or selling these items for some kind of in-game currency, you’re selling for Steam Wallet money. This means that all of those items you’ll never use can be turned into money towards games you’ll actually play.

This is a huge step for Steam, and if all goes successfully I’m sure we’ll see more games and tradable items added to the Community Marketplace before it’s fully implemented. So far the program is only in Beta, but already gamers can see how this could one of Steam’s most brilliant recent ideas, up there with Greenlight and Early Access.

Steam isn’t the first one to open up the trade of in-game items for real life money. This was one of the selling points last year for Diablo 3. But Valve in all of their wisdom has devised a strategy that will hopefully work well for their company, other game developers, and the player all at the same time.

Let’s start with looking at Steam. Obviously they are getting a good deal here, as all trades use Steam Wallet money as their currency. That means that every trade results in money that has to be spent within the Steam store. So no, you’re not going to get money in your pocket selling your in-game items, but the money you make can be used towards new titles.

In addition Steam will take add a little tax that goes to Valve. The Beta tax has been set to a mere 5%, not bad when looking at other game’s trading system taxes (*ahem* Diablo 3 *ahem*). It’s certain that Steam is giving themselves the best deal here, but don’t worry, so far they seem to be making things fair for everybody.

We can’t tell for sure yet, but it looks like individual games will be able to levy their own tax on top of Valve’s. It’s hard to tell because the Beta is only allowing Steam items and Valve in-game items traded. But in the Steam Community Marketplace FAQ each game has an additional 10% tax added on that the buyer will you have to pick up. If this money goes to the game developer it will promote more in-game items to be created, and help developers out with a little income in between game releases.

But most importantly, this system seems to work out well for the player. Of course I’d rather have the ability to sell my items for real life cash, but I understand Steam requiring it to come in the form of Steam Wallet money. Having a standard forum to sell items on will benefit the player with a standard value for their in-game items and coupons. No longer will players have to jump on forums to sell their unwanted loot, not knowing a fair price or value of their goods.

At the same time it will allow people to easily get rid of things they aren’t using. Of course people probably don’t have 100s of dollars’ worth of items laying around in their Steam inventory. But maybe you have a coupon or two that are worth 5 or 10 bucks that you’ll never use. And slashing the price of a new release is never a thing to complain about!

Because the Steam Community Marketplace is still in open Beta it’s hard to say exactly how successful or useful the new tool will be. But, if done correctly this new trading forum could become one of Steam’s most important tools. Not only as a way for players and game developers to get a little monetary break, but also as yet another way to build a stronger Steam community.