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Valve's user-created content store earns modders $50k

Royalties from virtual item shop "mind-blowing", say creators - while Valve takes even more

Royalties from the new in-game user-created content store in Valve's multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 have approached $50,000 for some players.

Five modders, who won a competition to have their creations featured, earned five-figure sums from the in-game Mann Co. Store - which opened just a fortnight ago.

Creators keep 25 per cent of all item sales, with the rest going to Valve. The highest-revealed royalty payment to date is $47,000, meaning Valve would have taken approximately $140,000 from the sales of just one modder's content.

"It was completely mind-blowing, the size of the return that we're getting on these things," modder Spencer Kern, one of the top two earners so far, told Gamasutra.

Valve flew Kern and another player, Steven Skidmore, to its office to present them with their money first-hand, as payments had exceed Paypal's permissible limits.

Said Valve boss Gabe Newell, "It benefits us because it grows the community, right? These [content creators] benefit, but we benefit too.

"Once people realise this is about their community, and that the right people are getting the benefits... after a while, they'll say, 'This is really how these kinds of communities need to work.'"

Valve will also sell its own content on the store, but plans to significantly extend the range of amateur contributions. Prices for items currently range from less than a dollar to $17.50.

"What you really want to do is create per-person pricing, or per-person monetisation or per-person ways of creating value," said Newell. "In a sense, asking 'could you support a game entirely with just this as a monetisation model?' - you could."

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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