Valve on Steam game trade-ins

Gabe Newell says company moving in a direction "where everything is an item of exchange," needs to understand underlying economics first.


Earlier this month, Valve introduced the ability in its Steam game service for users to trade unplayed games among themselves. However, that looks to be just the start of the company's ambitions on that front.

Gabe Newell.
Gabe Newell.

In an interview with Eurogamer published today, Valve founder Gabe Newell talked about the company's longer-term plans for Steam. When asked if players would eventually be able to trade in games through Steam, Newell indicated an interest, but also admitted the company should better understand the concepts in play.

"We think we want to move in the direction where everything is an item of exchange," Newell said. "We just aren't totally sure how to do that right. We're sure there are economists out there who understand this really well. We feel like we're this third-world developing country. We've discovered rocks! And we've discovered sticks! And there's this other thing out there and we should move our economy in that direction. There must be somebody at the World Bank who can tell us what we ought to be doing. We just don't know what that is yet."

Valve's first steps on that path arrived in the form of Steam Trading, a program that lets users exchange in-game items and gifted titles between themselves. The program launched with support for Team Fortress 2 items and games purchased as gifts in the Steam store, but Valve expects to add Portal 2 in-game items to the beta shortly. Once customers purchase a game as a gift (or receive it as an extra copy), they may trade it for the games or virtual items of other users. Any "unopened" gift is fair game for trading, with no restrictions on territory.

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