As of the end of 2013, Valve has paid out more than $10 million to creators of custom made, in-game items.
If you've ever been away from Team Fortress 2 for a bit, you probably know the feeling of coming back into the game only to spend half the match trying to figure out what all the crazy, new community items do. The answer is simple - they're making big money for their creators.
During Valve's recent Steam Dev Days conference, the company announced that the custom items made by players in Team Fortress 2 and DOTA 2 earned their creators an average of $15,000 over the course of 2013.
By the end of 2013, Valve had given out $10,215,796 to 661 creators for 2,349 custom made items. For comparison, in 2010, when Team Fortress 2 first started offering players royalties on their custom items, the amount given out was $590,900 to 63 creators for 106 items.
Granted, it's not clear how evenly distributed that cash is but considering Valve has demonstrated they're willing to pay out several million for fan content it seems likely the number of contributors is only going to grow.
At the Steam Dev Days, Valve said that 90 percent of items currently available in Team Fortress 2 have been created by the community. Just last year, Valve released "Robotic Boogaloo," its first ever Team Fortress 2 update developed entirely by the community.
Source: The Verge