Trading Cards Again Picking Up Steam
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Games are so much more than just games these days. Now, they’re potential film franchises, comic book and novel adapting material, templates for statues and the center of conventions the world over. Publishers have changed what it means to be a gamer tenfold compared to what it was, back when playing a game was just that: playing a game. Now comes the news that Steam will be offering trading cards to further the Steam experience.
The premise behind the cards is fairly straightforward. Certain games (CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Portal 2, Half-Life 2 and Don’t Starve) will feature trading card sets. Collecting a set will net you a badge showing that you collected the set for that game, which will then allow you to craft a Badge. With that Badge, you’ll also get a random emoticon item created for the game you can use in chat or discussions, a random profile background item created for the game that can use on your Steam Community profile, a chance to get a discount coupon for a different game or DLC and 100XP, which may increase your Steam Level. That’s a whole lot of goodies tied to one badge.
Actually getting the cards is a slightly different story. Each participating game drops up to half the set of cards into your Steam inventory during gameplay, while the other half of the card set can be collected from other community members. Basically, you buy a game, get half the cards and then trade your way to the rest. It’s a pretty ingenious way to do things actually, as it rewards the Steam loyalists even more and also encourages further discussion amongst the Steam community.
Steam’s community is one of its most valuable assets (aside from the actual games) and offering trading cards to players is a great way to further engender collaboration and solidarity amongst them. Gamers are already getting the games anyway, so it only makes sense for Valve to offer them something additional with their purchase. For the gamer, it gives them more control over the profile and for Valve it sells more games. That’s not to say that the move is solely driven by profits (Valve is too community oriented for that), but there is a financial component to it that can’t be overlooked.
The fun part of the trading cards will be the actual trading. Any time cards are involved, you’re always in search of one particular card that really brings an entire set together. Years of playing Magic: The Gathering and other CCGs really hits that point home. You could make an incredible deck and only need one card to really make it sing. Your options are to buy it outright, keep by packs/decks hoping you pull it or trade with someone else. The fact that you can’t buy the cards from the Steam store or buy boosters means you have to trade if you want that last card in the Steam set. It’s a breath of fresh air into an industry that’s becoming more and more transmedia oriented.
In a nutshell, Steam trading cards are geared towards improving the standing of Steam community members. The thinking is that if someone is really invested in Steam and loves being part of the community, then picking up additional trading cards will only cement that loyalty. More cards will increase your Steam Level, which in turn will give you more control over customizing your profile. What’s more is that getting the cards can also increase your Steam Level, which gives you the ability to raise the limit on the size of your friends by five and potentially unlock the ability to customize your profile with showcases. You can see about joining the Beta right here.