A beta update for Steam lets gamers trade virtual items for unused digital copies of games. Released Tuesday, the upgrade to Valve’s digital-distribution platform could co-opt a thriving black market in which players swap unwanted games for prized in-game extras.
Valve introduced hats — novelty pieces of headwear for game characters — to its cartoon-styled multiplayer first-person shooter Team Fortress 2 in 2009. These hats, along with upgraded weapons, could be earned by simply playing the game or by purchasing them with real money. In 2010, Team Fortress 2 received an update that allowed players to trade hats and weapons with each other.
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