For a limited time, Valve has opened the doors to a new feature on Steam. Starting today, you can begin placing bids on games and a few items at the newly opened Steam Holiday Auction. This new program allows you to convert your unused and unwanted Steam inventory items into cold, hard... virtual gems. Those gems can then be used to "bid" on an item, usually a game on Steam. If you have the high bid at the end of a 45 minute timer, you win the auction!

Think of this as eBay but with Steam games and gems. Meaning, it would be in your best interest to hold off on placing a high bid until the last possible second on an auction. Placing a high bid early only drives up the price for when someone inevitably outbids you. Let's just say that you'll probably have to be incredibly lucky or incredibly persistent if you plan on getting any of the hottest games for 2014.

Yes, the auctions are already up but the first batch of "winners" won't be selected until December 15 at 7:45AM (PT). It will then cycle through auctions every 45 minutes until December 18 at 10AM (PT). At that point, the Steam Holiday Sale 2014 will begin. And here you were thinking your wallets would get a reprieve. How adorable!

You can see the auctions, an FAQ, and even a comic for this new Holiday Auction over at the Steam Auction website.