Digital PC gaming platform Steam has introduced Item Stores, a new feature that allows game developers to sell in-game content via a web interface.
The first game to implement an Item Store is Facepunch Studios’ open-world survival sim Rust. Currently, the developer is selling in-game apparel and weapons including uniquely themed hats, hoodies, sleeping bags, pistols, and rifles.
Steam Item Stores supplement the existing Community Market, which allows individual users to sell and trade their own collections of in-game items and collectible cards. Item Stores allow developers to set their own prices and generate revenue on their own terms.
Developers can also partner with amateur modders to make and sell community-sourced items and add-ons. Steam’s terms for revenue sharing between users and game creators have not been disclosed, as the service is currently in a testing phase.
“This new Item Store is designed to make it easy for developers to establish an in-game economy or to just sell individual cosmetic items, keys, or consumables,” Steam representatives explained in a forum post within a private developer-oriented community. “And, it’s designed to easily integrate with a curated Workshop (similar to Team Fortress 2) so you can accept user-made items, use that data to create item definitions and prices in the Steam Inventory Service, and set those items for sale via the Item Store.
“Steam takes care of the checkout process, splitting payments to Workshop authors as appropriate, and adding the items to users’ inventories. Your game then just needs to be able to call the Workshop to download item content in the right circumstances for your game.”
Steam introduced a similar storefront for paid user mods in April, allowing modders to sell their creations via Steam Workshop. The feature was withdrawn shortly after launch following a community backlash. Item Stores give developers more control over the kind of user-made content that can be sold, and more carefully safeguards the process against abuse.