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Old Yesterday, 10:26 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
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Location: The Land of Cleves
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What are Steam trading cards, and should I care?

Like, I imagine, most Steam users, for the past few years, every so often a trading card or three has randomly shown up in my Steam inventory. They seem to all be depictions of characters, and they all come from games I own and have played, but beyond that, I can't see any rhyme nor reason to how I'm getting them. Like, just today, I got a pack of cards for Portal 2, which I haven't played in months at least.

I think I've gathered that these cards can be traded with other players, and that one can accumulate complete sets of cards for particular games, but... why? Is there any benefit to accumulating such sets? Can I do anything with them, or trade them for something other than other cards (like, say, money, or games, or Steam store credit for games)? And if there is some use for them, is there any particular way to accumulate them more quickly?
Old Yesterday, 10:46 AM
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Los 'Kamala'ngeles
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The only thing I've ever done with them is sell them on the Steam marketplace. I've had some cards worth about $1, but many are around $0.10 or less. Most are down to pennies and not even worth spending the time to sell. I have no idea why anyone would pay money for them, but I'll take their money.
Old Yesterday, 11:05 AM
carnalito is offline
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Spain
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Well if you care abouts levels and so on, yes, if not, no :P
Old Yesterday, 01:00 PM
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Location: Plymouth, UK
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Many games on steam have trading cards associated with them, but not all.

If they do, then when you play the game, you will get free card drops for that game - the actual cards are designed by the developers when they get onto steam. Each game has a set of these cards, and you will get enough free drops to collect half of the set. However, you are not guaranteed all different drops, so the chances are you'll end up with, say, 4 cards after a few hours play, 3 unique one double, out of a complete set of 8. Once you've used your free card drops, that is pretty much it for getting free cards for that game, you won't get more no matter how long you play. However, it is possible to get a new pack of 3 cards, which isn't dependent on you playing the game, and I'll explain a little more about later.

So, you have your 3 cards. If you can collect all 8, you can Craft a Badge. This badge will give you Steam rewards (such as profile backgrounds, emojis for steam chat, and suchlike), and will also give you steam XP to increase your Steam Level. Increasing your Steam Level basically lets you improve your profile and such, but it also lets you have more friends and whatnot.

So if you only get half the cards from drops, how can you complete the sets? You can trade the cards, either for real money, or directly with your friends (ie, you can give your cards to friends).

Every time someone crafts a badge, a booster pack of 3 cards is created and sent to someone who has that game, and the higher your steam level, the better chance you have of receiving one.

You can also "dust" cards to get gems, and use those gems to buy booster packs. That means that you can play a lot of different games, dust the cards, buy boosters and complete badges for free. It's not particularly efficient.

There is a further wrinkle with Steam Sales, when there are extra cards available and crafting the badges gives you these cards. This means that people save their card sets up for the sales, and then craft a lot of badges then to get the extra Sales cards.

I would say it's not something I bother much with, but I'm steam level 30 which is quite high among my friend group (although you can get into the thousands). I generally try and craft the Sale badges and not bother much with anything else, but if there's a particular game I really like I might try and get the badge for it - I've done that for 9 games of the 575 I own on Steam.

Also, you can craft the badges up to further levels, but ain't nobody got time for that.

There is a FAQ here:

Last edited by Teuton; Yesterday at 01:02 PM. Reason: Added faq
Old Yesterday, 01:03 PM
Balance is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 8,312
The trading cards are part of Steam's meta-achievement system. You use them to make trinkets that you can show off in your profile or on the discussion boards, and doing so levels up your Steam account. If you're not particularly interested in participating in the social side of Steam (and more specifically interested in bragging rights there), none of that matters much. The only material benefit I'm aware of is that you may occasionally get coupons for discounts on games or DLC. I've never gotten one that I actually wanted to use, though.

I have, however, actually bought a game with the proceeds from selling trading cards to other players, which was a nice perk. I also keep a few cards depicting favorite characters or games just because I like seeing them in my inventory on the rare occasions I look at it for something.


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