Half-Life and Portal publisher Valve has updated its popular online shooter Team Fortress 2, and with the changes comes the arrival for the first time of an in-game virtual item economy.
Until now the game has relied on stimulating new sales via the ongoing patching and updating of the title. This new development, however, opens up a whole new additional revenue channel.
The average cost of an item is expected to be around $2.
As well as selling items directly to consumers, the new platform also offers provision for player-to-player sales.
Valve has also assured existing players that those who participate in the marketplace will not be at an advantage over those who don’t. All items that can be purchased, aside from the player-to-player sales, can be obtained in the game by completing certain tasks.
It’s a similar model to that seen in many EA console games that allow players to speed up in-game process by paying directly for unlocks that would otherwise have to be earned in-game. The argument is that such a model opens up parts of the game to those who struggle to find the time needed to advance to the latter stages of certain titles.
If this new initiative is a success it’s possible that the game could become free-to-play at some stage in the future.