Microtransactions invade Team Fortress 2

Valve introduces payment scheme to acquire in-game items for its popular online multiplayer shooter.

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The virtual goods market has exploded over the past couple of years, growing from $1.1 billion in 2009 to an expected $1.5 billion in 2010, according to a recent study. And with virtual goods sales expected to grow by 40 percent over 2010 levels in 2011, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of gaming companies are coming up with new ways to monetize their games postlaunch by selling in-game items.

The latest company to do so is Valve, which announced today that it has introduced microtransactions to its well-regarded online multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2. Available now through the PC version of the game, the Mann Co. in-game store allows gamers to spend real-world cash on in-game items. The first pack includes 65 new items, ranging from weapon kits for the soldier, sniper, scout, pyro, and spy, to new hats.

Nothing says microtransactions like a hairy man who has taken his shirt off.
Nothing says microtransactions like a hairy man who has taken his shirt off.

"We want to make sure that our customers still have a terrific experience on the battlefield whether they buy anything or not," Valve said in a statement. "All the existing ways they were able to get their hands on weaponry still exist without them having to spend any money."

Notably, Valve will also allow users to sell their own creations through the in-game store. Though the functionality is not currently available, Valve expects to have more information on how it will work at a later date. The update also allows gamers to trade in-game items with one another.

The Mann Co. store will make use of Valve's recently introduced Steam Wallet, which gamers can also use to buy games and other items through the developer's online portal. For more information, check out the FAQ that Valve has posted concerning the Mann Co. update.

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