Where the title is a description of my current state
So as some of you (and your wallets) may have noticed it’s that time of year where Valve forcibly parts you with your cash, no matter what previously noble purpose you may have had planned for your bank balance, shame on you for trying to do anything else with your hard earned money. That’s right, the dreaded Steam Summer Sale has been upon us for 8 days now and I’m already bankrupt. There have been some blinding discounts on some truly amazing games, classics and newer titles alike. We’ve still got another 3 days left on the sale, with usually the final day being a bumper-crop day for deals. If you’re a gamer and you aren’t already impoverished by Steam’s yearly evil machinations then you aren’t doing it right, go buy some excellent games.
The twist in the tale this year is that it ‘happily’ coincided with the launch of Steam trading cards, which are some sort of evil collectable digital card trading construct. So far they are drip-feeding the community with card sets added to a plethora of different games, spanning all genres. You no longer just obtain Steam Badges by doing cool things and participating in the wider community, no. Now you must buy and play games for a chance at getting some of these trading cards, build up sets for the games that have them, where upon completion you can transform your collection into a badge. They even introduce the concept of random booster-pack eligibility, which you may only have a chance at getting so long as you log in to Steam every day, which is fiendishly clever. If this added layer of achievementification (I’m coining the word now) wasn’t mystifying enough, completing badges gives you experience towards your ‘Steam Level’, which I’m not even sure what it’s for yet. Don’t get me wrong I like collectible card games, even digital ones, I’m a huge fan of Might & Magic: Duel of Champions for example. But cards that are limited acquisition, that can be bought and sold in the community market for real money, but serve no real purpose and cannot be played with? I don’t get it. A friend mentioned collectible Panini football stickers, it’s exactly like those where by you fill your collectors book with them and display all the stickers you have to your friends with pride, or something like pride I imagine… I never really understood football. The aim seems to be that of getting the completionist in you to explode into a purchasing frenzy from the amount of collection and completing that is now presented to you, with some cards costing no more than 20 pence each it initially seems harmless enough but some sets need 10 cards each to complete and you only get 3-4 free cards. This doesn’t include foil/rare (they look shiny) versions of the cards, which someone on my Twitter feed was saying that they’d sold one for over £1… The mind boggles.
I have no clue what Valve are trying to achieve with the trading cards thing, other than what seems to be the blatant monetization of achievements which is both inspired and deeply troubling; yeah the person selling the item gets the majority of the sale but make no mistake that Valve are still taking their cut of every single sale and that starts to add up because people are going nuts for this stuff. I’ve completed the “Summer Getaway Badge” which seems to be a replacement for the straight-up badges you used to get for sale events. Now you collect 8 or so cards associated with the Summer Sale, it doesn’t take too much effort as you get the cards for buying games (1 card for every ~$10 value of a game) in the sale and participating in the daily community sale votes (every 3 votes bags you a card). I was a bit disappointed that on completion of the set and subsequently the badge that it told me that I received some ‘postcards’ and that I could do it all again for a better version of the badge and more XP, that sort of soured the deal for me at that point. Some people I know are actually making money selling cards on the market place, nothing major though, just enough to scrape together a few pounds to buy stuff in the sale whilst its still on.
In the spirit of this special consumerist time of year I’ve selflessly decided to do a giveaway for you lovely people. I’ll be giving away a copy of Borderlands 2 (redeemable through Steam) to one lucky winner. To enter: RT this Tweet and follow @Pixievoo, terms and conditions are: You do it properly, you get entered into the draw. One entry per person. Simple.
I’ll do the draw and announce the winner on the 2nd of August. Good luck!
Edit: Due to issues with Twitter, mostly them suspending my account for over a week, the draw will now happen on the 9th. Sorry for the confusion folks!