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Team Fortress 2 Community Contributor Payday

Steamworks Enables Peer-to-Peer Content Creation

October 21, 2010 — Valve announced the success of the Team Fortress 2 (TF2) peer-to-peer marketplace released as part of its September 30th “Mann-Conomy” update for PC and Mac users. This feature is available to developers and publishers as part of the Steamworks suite of services.

Five Steam community members participated in the initial round of content creation. Rob Laro, Shawn Spetch, Steven Skidmore, Spencer Kern, and Shaylyn Hamm created items for Team Fortress 2 which were then made available to other community members for purchase from the in-game Mann Co. Store. Today they received checks for the first two weeks of sales, with royalties ranging from $39,000 to $47,000 per person…

…”It’s astounding that so many people want to purchase the items that came out of the community,” said Spencer Kern, TF2 community content creator. “The response exceeded my wildest expectations. There really is no doubt at this point that there’s a huge demand for community-created content in TF2 and, hopefully, more games will start to tap into this demand.”

Funds from sales of community members’ items were to be deposited directly into their PayPal accounts. However, within days, the revenue that their items generated exceeded PayPal’s cap on the maximum deposit size. While Valve made alternate payment arrangements for the others, two of the community members flew to Seattle to receive their first checks directly.

The peer-to-peer marketplace is a new feature in Steamworks, a free-to-license collection of tools and services. Team Fortress 2 was the first game to utilize the peer-to-peer marketplace, available to players in-game as The Mann Co. Store.

“At a time when content creators are struggling with changing markets and evolving technologies, the Steam community is sending a clear message with these checks,” said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. “Platforms that enable this kind of peer-to-peer exchange of virtual goods and services are going to be enthusiastically received. They create an inherently greater efficiency in connecting creators and consumers.”

Team Fortress 2 will provide regular updates to community-created content on the Mann Co. Store. Those interested in contributing to future updates should go to http://www.teamfortress.com/contribute/.

Developers and publishers who want to add peer-to-peer entertainment services in their own games should go to http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/.


What does this mean, other than that the Mann Co. Store is a resounding success?

  1. Creating virtual items is more profitable than destroying them
  2. Valve made at least $1,000,000 off the Mann Co. Store so far
  3. Holy shit
  4. Expect to see a large amount of additional content moving forward

I’ll be speaking with Murray Chu from The Escapist Magazine in an upcoming interview about this update, among other virtual talking points (more info as it becomes available). In the meantime, what do you think of this phenomenal news?

13 replies to this post
  1. According to hearsay on the forums, contributors get 25%. 40k minimum x 5 = 200k x 4 = 800k minimum in total, of which Valve sees 600k in their own bank. If everyone bought the best value (the bundle), that’s 16,000 buyers.

    • Indeed, and that’s just on Polycount items. Imagine how much they’ve made off the other things, like keys, old items, gifts, name tags, etc.

  2. I’m really glad that this has been a success for Valve and I’m happy and thankful for all the contributors. I really, really love this game and I want it to continue to be played and to grow. This is a sign of great things to come, friends! My only perpetual concern (with every single update) is that the game will become broken and unbalanced. This has never been more obvious than with this last update. No, it didn’t ‘break’ the game, but some of the items… kinda ridiculous… I’ll refrain from naming any… But I suppose this success is a sign that Valve will continue to patch and work towards harmonious balance in this, now more complicated than ever before, greatest ever multiplayer shooter.

  3. You know what I find funny?

    Valve has over the years, sold TF2 at 20 dollars and often lower than that, garnering a huge audience with loyalty built off free updates. Not many popular games achieve that.

    And now, they do this.

    A part of me is horrified at the fact that the populace was “tricked” so easily. 17.50 for a hat?! That’s almost as much as a single copy of the game! And 2.50 for a key that cannot be dropped? Way to corner the market. (Yes, most items can be dropped, other than the keys, but still!)

    A part of me is delighted. Holy shit! Valve made a good business deal! Some people get to share in it! The community will be even more engaging now!

    And a part of me wonders if this will kill the unique experience of TF2 or perhaps expand it.

    • I do believe it’ll expand it. The very possibility of buying your items instead of waiting for hours upon hours is a neat function. Since they are expensive, people won’t abuse it. And since Valve is so nice as to balance their weapons; people that don’t buy things aren’t at a disadvantage against people not buying things.
      And if anyone is going to complain against the hat bonus, I have two things to say:
      1: They can be crafted.
      2: Their effect is minuscule.
      3: The set is not as good as other sets(example: sniper that only has a no-headshot sniper rifle and an useless knife), and the small effect just makes up for that, if not only a bit.

      But luckily, there aren’t many raging whiners following this blog.

      • wait, I phrased that wrong.

        “People not buying things aren’t at a disadvantage against people buying things.” That’s what I was supposed to say.

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