Ok, so the new beta on steam is a trading card game. Yes, you heard me, a trading card game. This trading card game does also come with more profile personalisation, an XP system for your account and also extra bonuses like images to use in chat. Oh, and Badgers.
Initially there are five games participating in this trading card giveaway. Four of them are Valve games: TF2, Portal 2, HL2 and GS:GO and the other one is the exceptional indie, Don’t Starve. You can obtain a set number of cards through simply playing the game, either actually playing or idling in a corner on a TF2 idle server. You can only obtain a certain number of cards through playing, and they wont always be different ones. For example, out of the eight Portal 2 cards, I’ve received three different ones but one of them twice.
The issue here is that you have to get the rest of the cards another way. Either trading or buying them from the steam marketplace. Either way inevitably adds a bit more to Valve’s coffers.
Upon collecting a set of the cards you can combine them into one of the touted badges, as well as a chat icon to use and a background for your profile. There is also a chance to obtain a money off coupon for a game on steam, upon my combination of the HL2 set I got a Gordon Freeman Icon for chat, a Combine Technology profile background and a 50% off voucher for Dawn of Fantasy.
The bonuses are where the new profile personalisation comes into it. You can now edit your profile to highlight one of your selected badges as well as a showcase. I opted for the games collector showcase because I have a load of games, mostly ones I’ve never played so an achievement showcase would look incredibly bare, not to mention the other ten or so options. As well as these little things you can select from the backgrounds and a number of other options.
The problem with all this is: What about the games? Don’t get me wrong, I’m on steam all the time but I’ve never really been that fussed over the cosmetic stuff. All I ever do with TF2 hats is sell them on the market – though that’s because I dislike TF2 (Yes, I know I’m on it in the above screenshot. TRADING CARDS!). I’m still a sucker for them and I imagine that’s what Valve are wanting, people to take to it like they’ve taken to the hats, something that makes Valve enough money to make Switzerland envious.
I can see it having a bonus to any games that opt in to the card system. I still remember reading about people buying a lot of the indie games for the achievements in the Summer and Winter sales a year or so back. Those alone prove that people are willing to spent a bit of money for games to win cosmetic prizes.
Like the hats before it, this will change as we move along and Valve learn how to fine tune it. While I may have already obtained all but one of the sixteen cards available to me in drops, showing how much of a mug I am, I still find it a bit too social. If I want to mess with a profile and focus on what people will see me as, I’ll go on Facebook, which I don’t. I’m an anti-social git at the best of times.