How to Sell Steam Games

Will the Steam police come after you?

When you buy a physical game, you have the option to sell it on Craigslist or eBay, take it to a local game store and trade it in for money or store credit, or do anything else you want with it. Selling games on Steam is a more complicated subject, because Valve doesn't want you to do it.

The only case where you can sell a Steam game without getting in trouble with Valve is if the game is in your inventory and hasn't ever been added to your library yet. You can also sell your entire Steam library by selling your account, but doing so may result in Valve banning and locking the account if the transaction is discovered.

How to Sell Individual Steam Games

When you buy a game on Steam, the system provides you with a few options. You can send the game as a gift to a friend, add it to your Steam inventory, or add it to your Steam library. Adding the game to your library allows you to play it, while adding it to your inventory essentially provides you with a game key that you can use later, give to a friend, or even sell.

There is no way to take a game out of your Steam library and put it back into your inventory.

Even if you haven't played a game yet, the act of adding it to your library is irreversible. That means there is no way to sell a game from your Steam library, unless you sell your entire Steam account.

Games that are stored in your Steam inventory can be sent as gifts or traded through the Steam trading system. There is no official provision for selling these games.

If you want to sell a game from your Steam inventory, you need to use an outside service like PayPal, Venmo, or even cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to receive payment. You can also use a third party escrow service or key reseller to automate the process, but make sure to do your research so you don't end up working with a scammer.

This method uses the Steam gift system, which isn't intended for selling games. It is the only way to sell individual Steam games outside of Steam, and it doesn't work with games that you have already added to your library, even if you haven't played them yet.

Here's how to get a game out of your Steam inventory so that you can sell it:

  1. Navigate to your Steam inventory, and click a game you want to sell.

    A screenshot of a Steam inventory.
  2. Click Send gift.

    Send Gift button on Steam
  3. Select email my gift, enter an email address, and click Next.

    Email my gift option in Steam's Choose a Delivery Method

    Enter an email address you own to receive gift link that you can use to sell the game through a key reseller or escrow service. If you have already sold the game, or you trust them to pay after receiving the game, enter the buyer's email.

  4. Enter your recipient's name and a brief message, if you want to, and click Send.

    Send button in Steam's gift system

    Don't send a game to a buyer with this method unless you trust them, or you're using some type of reseller or escrow service. Selling Steam game codes is not supported by Valve, so nobody will help you if you get scammed.

  5. Steam will immediately send the game to the email you indicated. If you emailed it to yourself, you can then set up a sale through a reseller site or a personal transaction.

How to Trade Steam Games For Marketable Items

The other way to effectively sell games from your Steam gift inventory is to trade them for items that can be sold on the Steam Market. The Steam Market is a system that Valve has set up to allow Steam users to sell specific items from their inventories to each other for real money. You can't sell games on the Steam Market, but there is a way around that limitation.

This is a two-step transaction that requires you to trade a game from your Steam gift inventory to someone who has Steam Cards, skins, or other items that are worth money on the Steam Market. You can then sell those items on the Steam Market for money.

When you sell items on the Steam Market, the money you earn is placed in your Steam Wallet. There is no way to withdraw this money for use outside Steam, but you can use it to buy Steam games.

  1. Initiate a Steam trade with an interested party.

  2. Offer a game from your Steam gift inventory in exchange for marketable items like Steam Cards, and skins for games like DOTA2, CS:GO, and TF2.

  3. After completing the trade, sell the items you obtained on the Steam Market.

  4. Use the money you earned on the Steam Market to purchase a new game that you want to play.

Refunding Steam Games Instead of Selling Them

If you want to get rid of a game you bought within the last two weeks, and that you've played for less than two hours, Steam does have a process to refund games. Your reason for requesting a refund doesn't matter, so you can ask for one if the game won't run on your computer, you just don't like the game or any other reason.

Selling Your Entire Steam Account

Once you buy a game, and it's in your inventory, it's there for good. The game only exists as a license that allows you to download and play it through Steam, and Valve provides no way to transfer that license. If you want to sell the games in your Steam library, the only option is to sell your entire Steam account.

Before you attempt to sell your Steam account, it's important to remember that doing so comes with a few consequences. The first, and most important, is that you will immediately lose access to your entire Steam library, your steam name, your friends list, and your entire Steam inventory.

The other issue is that selling a Steam account is a violation of the end-user license agreement (EULA) that you agreed to when you first signed up for steam.

In some countries, any EULA provision that strips consumer rights, like the right to resell items you purchase, renders the EULA unenforceable. If you live in an area that has strong consumer protections like that, you probably won't get in trouble for selling your Steam account. However, Valve may still ban you from Steam in the future.

If you do decide to sell your steam account, despite the potential risks, it's a good idea to use a reputable escrow service, and avoid revealing any details about the account to the public.

In the past, Valve has locked and banned accounts to prevent sales such as these, so avoid revealing details like the included games and your email address to anyone but serious buyers.

When selling a Steam account, it's also important to first tie it to a new email address created for that specific purpose, change the account name, and delete your friends list prior to handing over the account so that the buyer isn't able to impersonate you.