Valve Software revealed a public beta test for a new payment option for its Steam digital download service called Steam Wallet
, which allows users to buy funds usable to purchase games from the store.
Users can add funds to their Steam Wallets in increments of $5, $10, $25, $50 and $100. Steam customers can still pay for games directly using their credit cards.
While a first for Valve's Steam, the idea of giving digital consumers a virtual wallet has been around for years, as PlayStation Network, the Wii Store, Xbox Live Marketplace and social game companies have used similar systems.
Valve didn't offer a specific motive for introducing Steam Wallet, but such systems could allow credit card users to deposit money in a Steam account for later use by a would-be customer with no credit card.
And with set dollar increments, Valve could theoretically introduce Steam gift cards at physical retail locations, although the company hasn't said it would go that route.