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What are Steam Trading Cards?

By : Kenny King on Saturday, July 20, 2013 | 8:27 AM

Steam Trading Cards are easy to explain and understand for gamers that want to put in just a little time and effort into learning the systems' intricacies. If you've been participating in the recent Steam Summer Getaway sales, you've likely noticed that many of the games you have downloaded and played will initiate a popup in the bottom right corner of the screen to notify that a new item has been added to your Inventory. Players can then head into the Inventory to see what new cards have been unlocked. Each game has a random assortment of Steam Trading Cards, of which half will be unlocked just by purchasing and playing the game associated with the cards. Whole collections can range from as low as 5 Steam Trading Cards for the whole set with the largest groups going up to around 14 cards. This means a player can earn from 2 to 7 cards just for downloading and playing a new game with Steam Trading Card support on Steam!

New Steam Trading Cards are unlocked just by having a game loaded for 20-30 minutes for each card. This allows players to simply earn cards just by sitting at the main menu of games, but playing the game is always more fun obviously. Players can then head into the Steam Community to purchase the other cards needed to complete a set or to sell unwanted cards. Prices for each card typically depend on three factors: how many cards are needed to complete a collection, the popularity of the game and the rarity or scarcity of a card. Learning the current prices of a Steam Trading Card on the Community marketplace is key when purchasing or selling cards online. By quickly searching for a card on the Community and reloading the page for the card a few times, you can quickly gauge the current market value for the card and purchase your wanted card at a low price or sell your card for some quick income or earn a few extra cents by waiting for other cards to be sold first before listing your card at a higher price. A handy Sale Prices chart is also available on the page for each card that shows median prices for each card over recent hours, days or lifetimes.



You may be asking yourself why you should care to complete a collection of Steam Trading Cards at this point, but there are numerous benefits to unlocking cards and crafting Badges. The perks begin when every Steam Trading Card drop is earned from an eligible game, because then the player becomes eligible to receive a free pack of cards, though this will require to play the game for a certain amount of time or purchase enough in-game items for free-to-play games. Additional rewards are unlocked for attaining every card in a collection and using the cards to craft a Badge for the game. Not only do Badges look nice sitting on display in your Steam profile, but 100 experience points will be unlocked for the Steam account associated with the Badge, and other unlocks for completing a set include earning an emoticon and background for the game and possible coupons for additional Steam purchases. Players will also unlock a better chance of unlocking Steam Trading Card Packs for their eligible games every time a Badge is crafted by other players in the Community and a new item Showcase for each 10 levels earned on a Steam account. This percentage increases by 20 for every 10 levels earned on a Steam account, though 100 additional experience points are required for each additional level each time as well.

Here is a quicker explanation of Steam Trading Cards benefits:


As you can clearly see, the Steam Trading Card promotion is a very intricate system, but it is also one that is rewarding and entertaining for Steam gamers and Steam itself. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind while buying and selling cards for your virtual collection:

  • Not every game currently supports Steam Trading Cards, but a complete list of participating games can be found here 
  • Each game will have at least a number of Steam Trading Card drops equal to half the number of cards in the whole collection
  • Steam Trading Cards are earned by playing eligible games for a predetermined amount of time
  • There are two types of Steam Trading Cards: Basic and Foil
  • Basic Steam Trading Cards can be collected to craft a game's Badge up to 5 different times
  • Foil Steam Trading Cards are used to craft a Foil badge, but only one Foil Badge is available for each game
  • Every Badge crafted by cards are worth 100 Experience Points each
  • Levels are initially earned for every 100 Experience Points earned, but Level requirements increase by 100 Experience Points for each level after each 10 Levels are earned
  • There are also special Community related Badges that can be unlocked for having a large gaming collection or completing Community related tasks
  • Crafting Badges deletes the Steam Trading Cards used in its creation forever
  • All sales and trades involving Steam Trading Cards are final
  • Crafting Badges unlocks random emoticons and backgrounds of different rarities for that particular game
  • Coupons for games and DLC, promotional Steam Trading Cards, additional friend slots and Steam Showcases can be unlocked through crafting Badges and leveling up
  • Every time a Badge is crafted, another randomly determined, eligible Steam member unlocks a Steam Trading Card Pack for that game
  • Steam Trading Card Packs include 3 unique cards that can include Basics and Foils
  • Chances to receive a free Steam Trading Card Pack will be increased by 20% for every 10 Steam levels an eligible player has earned
  • Cards are only unlocked by playing games on Steam and are not currently associated in any form with Steam Achievements
  • Steam Trading Cards cannot be used in any game and are only accessible through Community and Profile pages on a valid Steam account

Steam Trading Cards appear to be the future economies for video games across all platforms. The digital economy allows players to earn rewards or currency to stash away in their Steam wallet to use in future game purchases. Steam also receives a certain percentage of the sale for transfers of fees making it a win win situation for all parties involved. Steam Trading Cards is revolutionizing the video game industry in the same way that in-game Achievements, digital downloads and DLC have all done before it. Steam Trading Cards are here to stay, and with the Steam Summer Getaway sales in full swing, there has never been a better time to learn the system and begin buying, selling and trading these virtual pieces of cardboard online. Check out Steam Trading Cards on Steam today!

For additional details and to begin collection Steam Trading Cards, check out the official Steam website.


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