Valve’s Trading Card Update Shoots Shovelware Games In The Heart

Those of you who use or follow Steam in any capacity are no doubt aware of the high volume of low effort shovelware being heaped onto the service, increasingly from developers out of Russia, that have popped up on Steam for one purpose: Farming trading cards. These games use unscrupulous methods, through bot voting or through key bribery, to get their games greenlit, after which the game is immediately besieged by thousands of bots who idle the game and then sell the trading cards for money or break the cards down into gems which are then sold for money. The bots make money, the developer gets a cut of the sales, and others have more incentive to throw their shovelware onto Steam for an easy, if ill-gotten, profit.

The practice has become so popular that there are entire Steam groups dedicated to buying up these low quality games for the purpose of farming cards in large quantities.

Today’s Steam update takes those bad actors out back and buries them next to the rose bushes. In order to be eligible for trading cards, a game must obtain a certain confidence level showing that people are actually playing. In the update notice, Valve attributes changing the trading card system as being to cut down on faux data.

As we mentioned in our last post, the algorithm’s primary job is to chew on a lot of data about games and players, and ultimately decide which games it should show you. These Trading Card farming games produce a lot of faux data, because there’s a lot of apparent player activity around them. As a result, the algorithm runs the risk of thinking that one of these games is actually a popular game that real players should see.

Thankfully this system is retroactive, meaning you’ll receive any cards you should have once they are made available.

Instead of starting to drop Trading Cards the moment they arrive on Steam, we’re going to move to a system where games don’t start to drop cards until the game has reached a confidence metric that makes it clear it’s actually being bought and played by genuine users. Once a game reaches that metric, cards will drop to all users, including all the users who’ve played the game prior to that point. So going forward, even if you play a game before it has Trading Cards, you’ll receive cards for your playtime when the developer adds cards and reaches the confidence metric.

Valve has confidence that this system will function better than Steam Greenlight, whose failure to curate allowed the games onto the marketplace to begin with, due to the extra variables and larger base compared to the relative few who use Greenlight. Most recently, Valve made major changes to gifting Steam games in order to combat bad hombres.

(Source: Steam)

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