With Valve having recently released the full version of their new ‘Steam Trading Cards’ feature, after a surprisingly short beta period, there has been much discussion around the Internet about the purpose and usefulness of the system. Some have praised the system as another way for allowing users to get more involved in the Steam Community, and rewarding dedicated Steam users; others, however, have criticized the system as being gimmicky and even exploitative, and nothing more than a money-making scheme on Valve’s part.
A quick run-down for those of you who are unfamiliar with the system: Steam Trading Cards allows users to receive random trading cards for playing various games, which they can then craft into ‘badges’ in order to increase their ‘Steam level,’ a new, RPG-like feature added to Steam. Higher Steam levels grant users additional Steam features, such as the ability to customize their Steam profiles further, or have larger friends lists. Trading cards can obviously be traded with other users, and can also be sold for money. At first glance, the system seems like a fantastic idea: it rewards you for playing games you like, which you can then use to unlock additional features; meanwhile, people not interested can simply ignore the system altogether. Thus, everybody is happy. The truth is not that simple, however.