Trading Cards have been a popular addition to the Steam ecosystem, allowing players to collect and trade their favorites and sell the ones they don’t want. In turn, they can collect more of the ones they want, or they can simply sell them off for Steam wallet coinage. Well, a wave of abuse has been causing trouble, in the form of people creating fake games, getting them through Steam Greenlight then selling generated Trading Cards en masse for profit. Steam has changed the rules, in an effort to make this practice end for good.
According to the Steam Blog, the way it would work, was that “bad actors” would get their game through the Greenlight system, generate thousands of keys for those games and then use Steam account-running bots to build up Trading Cards. These Trading Cards would then go out on the community marketplace and somehow get sold.
In order to discourage this practice, but avoid punishing legitimate Steam users, Valve has implemented a new “confidence metric” that can change how Trading Cards are delivered in certain games. The confidence metric is “built from a variety of pieces of data, all aimed at separating legitimate games and players from fake games and bots.” What this means is that, until the metric is collectively met, games won’t be able to generate Trading Cards. However, when the metric is met, players will receive the Trading Cards based on the play time they’ve already put in.
This change is designed to hit the “bad actors” where it hurts – profit margins. If the economic incentive is messed up, Valve speculates, the motivation to use these methods should dwindle, and massive structural changes won’t be necessary.
This seems like the latest in the running discussions about quality control on Steam. One may argue that resources may be better spent on Valve developing some sort of moderation for Steam Greenlight in the first place, but the upfront costs associated may be just high enough that tweaking the automations in place is a more attractive option for now.
Source: Steam Blog