First revealed in a Steam database entry, Valve today confirmed Steam Trading Cards, a new service that offers rewards to gamers who play on Steam.
Launched today in beta, Steam Trading Cards gives participants game-specific trading cards that can be collected to earn rewards like badges, profile backgrounds, and coupons.
Participating games in the Steam Trading Cards beta include Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2 Portal 2, and Half-Life 2. Valve said the service will expand over the coming months to include "many more" titles.
Up to half of a given card set is dropped through game play, while the other half must be earned through collection. Once gamers have collected a set of cards, they can craft them into a badge. These badges are tied to an account and are shown off in a player's profile.
When a player is crafting a badge, they will receive random rewards for game-related items. These rewards are tradable and include downloadable content or game coupons, emoticons, and profile backgrounds.
Gamers can also level up their badges by collecting the set again and earning additional items. All badges now have XP, which in turn contributes to a player's Steam level. When a player levels up, they can receive non-tradable items like profile showcases and extra friends list slots.
Right now, Steam Trading Cards drops are tied to playtime within a game, independent of achievements players may receive. Valve said it is "definitely" looking into adding more rules concerning how cards are drops.
"Many games have achievements that are grindy or un-fun to get, and we want the act of getting game cards to be fun for all users in games," Valve said. "We also don't want to push users to cheat or use achievement-unlockers in games in order to get cards, since that devalues achievements and isn't that fun either."
More information, including a FAQ, is available at the Steam Trading Cards website.