The feature is currently limited to only six games
A mysterious database entry for something called the Steam Trading Card popped up in the Steam database late last week and all sorts of theories began doing the rounds on the Web. Some saw it as a harbinger of a trading game being developed by Valve, while others suspected it to be a new Steam service for facilitating the trade of in-game items.
Valve on Wednesday finally put all that speculation to rest when it officially announced Steam Trading Cards, a new service that rewards gamers for, well, gaming. In its press release, the company described the new service thus: “Released in beta today, Steam Trading Cards allows customers to earn Steam rewards for playing the games they love. Those who participate will receive game-specific trading cards that can be collected to earn rewards such as game badges, profile backgrounds, emoticons, coupons, and more.”
But how does one go about collecting these cards? To begin with, you will need to join the Steam Trading Cards beta, which is currently limited to Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2 and Half-Life. You can then collect up to half the card set through the actual act of playing, while the other half has to be collected from other community member.
Once you complete a card set for one of the above participating games, you can craft them into a game badge. Just like current badges, game badges are associated with your game account. According to the official Steam Trading Cards page, these badges bring with them “marketable” rewards like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and DLC/game coupons, What’s more, they can be levelled up as many as five times, allowing you to earn more items.
“All badges now have XP which contributes to your Steam Level, a summary of your badge collection,” reads the Steam Trading Cards page. “You can view someone’s Steam Level by hovering over their avatar. Leveling up earns you non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more”