Game Informer

Valve releases beta for Steam Trading Cards, including a number of interesting experiments

Valve releases beta for Steam Trading Cards, including a number of interesting experiments

Valve continues to experiment with ways to shape the behavior of those that play games. Today the company announced the beta for Steam Trading Cards, a system where you earn cards by playing certain games. You then turn the cards into badges, level up those badges, and at some point you may earn things such as emoticons, coupons, or backgrounds. You'll also be able to show off the badges you've earned, which should earn you the respect of people who care about the badges displayed on digital distribution platforms.

What's interesting is that the higher level players will actually be able to promote certain things through their account.

Choose what you want to show off. What’s unique about you? Based on your Steam Level you can customize your profile with showcases. Show off your favorite games, items up for trade, workshop mods, Greenlight submissions, or maybe your favorite screenshots…


There are only a few games that give you trading cards so far, including the following:

  • CS:GO
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Dota 2
  • Portal 2
  • Half-Life 2
  • Don't Starve

This whole thing seems odd; why do we need to gamify the act of playing games? On the other hand, this is the sort of thing that can hook people who love to collect even virtual items, and if Valve begins to tie in rewards such as beta access, free games, or coupons that actually save you some cash… I can see the appeal. Letting dedicated gamers earn personalized profiles where they can show off their accomplishments is something that could add value to the service.

On the other hand, there are some things that seem to exist just for the prestige of showing off something rare. “Once you reach Steam Level 10, there is a small chance whenever you get a Trading Card from playing a game that it will have a special foil border,” the FAQ states. “You'll need to collect a set of foil cards in order to craft them into a foil badge. There is no extra benefit to having foil cards or foil badges aside from their rarity.”

For now this may seem silly, but it's likely Valve has big plans for the service. Or no one will use it and it goes nowhere. For now though, this is a fun experiment. I'm going to sign up; I was looking for an excuse to re-play Half-Life 2 anyway.