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Valve launches Steam Trading Cards beta

Valve launches Steam Trading Cards beta

Valve's Steam Trading Cards system, currently in beta, provides rewards for playing games - but you'll need to trade with your friends to complete a set.

Valve's Steam platform is launching a new feature, and it's one that promises to form the basis of no small number of addictions: a collectable trading card element.

Launching in beta, the Steam Trading Cards service is an interesting amalgamation of the concepts of achievements and collectable cards: playing selected games results in trading cards being 'dropped' and collected by the player, which can then be used to 'craft' game badges related to the title from which they were collected. There's even a role-playing game element to the system, which sees players collected experience in order to increase their Steam Level. Oh, and random rewards ranging from custom emoticons to discounts on downloadable content.

If that sounds a little confusing, that's probably because it is. Valve appears to be taking elements from a variety of player progress tracking systems - Microsoft's Xbox Live Achievements, Sony's PlayStation Network Trophies, the size of a player's Magic: The Gathering collection and the traditional level-system of a pen and paper role-playing game - and turning them into what it clearly hopes will be a means of keeping gamers stuck to its Steam digital distribution platform.

The idea works as follows: players play one of a selection of Trading Card-enabled games, and during their playthrough receive Cards like an Xbox gamer would receive Achievements. Each game has a 'set' of Cards, but only a randomly-selected half of the set is attainable during play; the other half needs to be traded for, just like a traditional Collectable Card Game (CCG) like Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon.

The reason for going to the effort of earning the Cards and trading with friends for missing entries: each full Card Set can be transformed into a Badge related to that game. Unlike the current Steam Badge system, every time a Badge is created from a Card Set the player receives a reward ranging from a custom profile background or emoticon to discount vouchers on downloadable content related to that game. The player can then start collecting the cards all over again, increasing the 'level' of the Badge and earning another reward from the list. If a player doesn't want a reward, they're free to trade it with another player - possibly for a missing Card from another game.

Finally, the unlocking of a Badge provides experience points which increase the player's Steam Level. Analogous to the GamerPoints score on the Xbox 360, the Steam Level is naught but digital willy-waving, although increasing in level does provide non-tradeable rewards such as profile showcases - where gamers can show off items they have for trade, mods they've made for a game, submissions they've made to Steam Greenlight or just their favourite titles - and extra slots on the Steam Friends List.

Details surrounding the Steam Trading Cards service are available on the official website, while interested parties can join the Steam group to be entered into the queue for a place on the closed beta. At present, only play in CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Portal 2, Half-Life 2 and Don't Starve will earn cards, although Valve is planning to extend the list in the near future.

9 Comments

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Gunsmith 16th May 2013, 13:02 Quote
I think the big question here is

why?
Gareth Halfacree 16th May 2013, 13:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
I think the big question here is why?
'Cos Valve needs a hook. It needs something to keep people using Steam rather than buying games elsewhere - and this is its solution. Like Microsoft and Sony use their ranking systems to tie you in to their console - if you've scored 80,000,000 ePeenPoints on one console, you're less likely to want to switch to the rival platform and start from scratch - Valve is hoping that people will become addicted to collecting and trading the cards and thus stick with Steam rather than flitting off to a rival service.

Add in to that the bonus sales that come from people who have received Dota 2 cards (or whatever) from a friend and want to complete the set (so have to buy and play Dota 2) and you're laughing all the way to the bank.

At least, that's the theory. Will it work? Stranger things have happened. Remember the Beanie Baby craze?
B1GBUD 16th May 2013, 13:30 Quote
Do Steam really need this to keep hold of their current customers? I certainly don't really see the point of it all. I've used Steam since HL2 and whilst I have Origin (only because of BF3) I still go back and play other games on Steam as well.
Stanley Tweedle 16th May 2013, 13:39 Quote
I assume these are virtual cards that dunt exist in physical space. If so then gimmick. If on they other hand they're real cards that exist in the so-called real world then gimmick. Might appeal if I was 12,
Jaybles 16th May 2013, 15:15 Quote
So hats for people who don't play TF2?
Waynio 16th May 2013, 16:37 Quote
Oh deer.

Double Oh dear for typo.
lp rob1 16th May 2013, 17:57 Quote
I want cards for every hat in TF2. Along with a way to craft any cards that I do not like into new hats.
digitaldunc 16th May 2013, 19:00 Quote
Not interested.

No need to zynga-ise. If anything it'll put me off the platform, personally.

I'll stick with steam as it does what it says on the tin very well, and for the awesome sales -- don't need any additional incentive, thanks.
LordPyrinc 16th May 2013, 23:17 Quote
Oh well, at least they didn't do something stupid to drive away customers. I think I first had to install Steam for F.E.A.R 2. At first I was very skepticle with regards to the electronic marketplace, but more recently I've come to really appreciate what Steam has done. I've started purchasing some games through Steam now when I catch good bundle or sales deals.

I don't even bother browsing for PC games anymore at game shops and big box stores here in the US becuase the shelf space reserved for them has been steadily dwindling down to almost nothing over the last 10 years. I like Steam because I can start downloading immediately instead of waiting for a game to come via shipping.

The major drawback though is bandwidth caps. I have a soft cap of 15Gb a month after which my connection speeds become agonizingly slow. Because of that, I try to wait till a day or two before my cap reset to download large games. Even when it drops into the low speed, I just let it run 24/7 till it's done.
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