Steam game modder rakes in $23,000 a week

Four 'community content creators' for Valve's cartoony shooter Team Fortress 2 have trousered royalty checks for as much as $47,000 according to Gamasutra.

Rob Laro, Shawn Spetch, Steven Skidmore, Spencer Kern and Shaylyn Hamm all banked cash ranging from $39,000 to $47,000 after selling in-game items to impatient punters in the multi-player game's virtual market place over a two-week period.

The items, which can apparently be found for free with a lot of luck and hard work, earned the modders a 25 per cent cut of the cost price, which ranges from under a dollar to as much as $17.50 for sought-after items.

The experiment was such a success that the payments were too large to be carried out through the normal PayPal channels and Valve had to fly two of the recipients to its headquarters in order to hand over the wonga.

Stopping short of actually offering the modders a job, Valve boss Gabe Newell said that this kind content creation could "short circuit" the process of breaking into the notoriouly cut-throat games industry.

Paying for in-game content has split the gaming community with some complaining that being able to buy hard core items unbalances gameplay.

We reckon that, as long as the huge sums of cash generated are ploughed back into development, or lead to cheaper (or even free) games, everyone wins.

At the end of the day, anyone impatient enough to just cough up loads of cash to twink a character's equipment or attributes probably won't have the skills, or the staying power, to make a lasting impact on day-to-day gaming anyway.

Just look at it as a free subsidy and let the babies have their toys.