Steamworks Inventory/Marketplace Licensing Questions

Looking at releasing my newest game via the Steamworks platform and I had some licensing questions related to the use of the Steam inventory and marketplace that I’d like to get an official answer on.

The background for these questions is if I were to release a game (with a purchase price) via Steam, integrate Steamworks, utilize the Steam inventory system for items associated with the game (similar to the way PUBG, CS:GO, TF2, etc. handle cosmetics), and allow end users (players) to market/sell these Steam inventory items themselves (ie. I wouldn’t have any direct involvement in the selling of these items) via the Steam marketplace.

  1. Would the ability for end users to sell Steam inventory items associated with my game on the marketplace require me to answer “yes” to the “Will your product contain in-app purchases?” on the UE4 release notification form, even though the purchases themselves would take place on the Steam platform, not within the game itself?
  2. Would each Steam inventory item (say each article of clothing, as an example) associated with my game be considered part of the one UE4 Product (the game), or would each Steam inventory item be considered its own Product?
  3. Would the UE4 EULA and UE4 Marketplace EULA allow usage of Epic and marketplace UE4 content in the Steam inventory items associated with my game? These would be still images cropped from screenshots taken within my UE4 game.
  4. For royalty purposes, would I owe any royalties on Steam marketplace purchases sold by end users themselves? I’m unsure of this because the Steam inventory items themselves would be still images, for which, based on my reading of the UE4 EULA, no royalties are owed. If I would owe royalties, would those royalties be on the percentage “cut” I’d receive of these sales, or on the total sales price for the items (which would be split between the user, Valve, and me)?
  5. Would providing “loot crate” functionality in a UE4 game sold via Steam violate the UE4 EULA’s prohibition on Products “for any gambling-related activities or Products (as defined by law in the jurisdiction of use)”? Would the answer to this question be different in any of the following scenarios?
    … Loot crates are purchasable via micro transactions, items opened from the crates are usable exclusively in-game, and are not sell-able by end users on the marketplace (therefore have no monetary value)?
    … Loot crates are obtained exclusively through in-game means (not available via micro transcations), items opened from the crates are sell-able by end users on the marketplace?
    … Loot crates are purchasable via micro transactions, items opened from the crates are sell-able by end users on the marketplace?

Apologies for all of the questions, I’m just wanting to make sure I’m always acting in full compliance with the EULA.


  1. Yes, that would constitute purchases for your game.
  2. Yes, it would be considered part of your Product.
  3. You’re not allowed to use Marketplace assets in a way that permits users to pull those assets and re-use them elsewhere. I’m not familiar enough with Steamworks to understand if that’s the case.
  4. In this case, somebody pays $5 for in-game content - some of that goes to you, some to Steam, and some to the player/seller? I’d say all of that is gross revenue.
  5. No, traditional loot crate mechanics would not violate the ‘no gambling’ prohibition.

Thanks for your reply!

  1. Thanks!
  2. Thanks!
  3. That’s not the case, the Steamworks inventory/marketplace setup I’ve described would allow end users to buy/sell/trade virtual items for which the “preview image” is a cropped screenshot of a marketplace asset, taken from within my game. These items would then be usable in the game (for instance, clothing for your character, or consumables to provide your character with bonuses). Based on your previous reply, this is acceptable as per the UE4 and marketplace EULAs, correct?
  4. Would this apply even in situations where the vast majority of the item’s sell price goes to the player who sold the virtual item? I’m unsure of the exact percentage per transaction that would be provided to me on these sales, but would I be required to pay 5% royalties on gross sales (of the full sell price), even if I’m entitled to close to (or perhaps less than) 5% from those sales?
  5. Thanks, should I infer that your answer is true for each one of the three scenarios I described? As in, each one of them would not be in violation of the EULA?

Are you able to see what % goes to you, to Valve/Steam, and to the end user?

I can’t talk to my specific agreements with Valve/Steam due to NDA, but Valve does publish some details:

In the above article, they state that the Steam transaction fee is currently 5% (minimum of $0.01), and the “developer” fee for three of their games is set to 10%.

If the “developer” fee for my game was set to say 2% of the total sell price, would I still be required to pay a 5% royalty of the total sell price (which would have me paying more than I’m getting)? Would the answer be different if the “developer” fee for my game was 10%? 50%?

Based on my reading of the EULA, I’m really questioning whether royalties would be owed for user-to-user marketplace transactions of in-game items - since it’s the sale of a digital item from one Steam user to another Steam user (neither being me), and the entirety of the sale is handled through Steam and entirely separately from my game. The only association with my game is a) a screenshot from the game being used as the preview image (a still image); and b) the eventual buyer using that item within my game. Again though, I’m not sure, as the EULA doesn’t specifically mention this kind of situation, so I wanted to get some clarification and make sure everything I’m doing is in compliance with the EULA.

We’ve discussed internally and in this case we would agree that your 5% royalty on gross revenue could be limited to the gross revenue of the developer and platform fees (i.e., your fee and Steam’s fee) but not to the end user revenue. Would you be able to calculate that?

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