In an effort to disrupt Trading Card farming based around Steam games produced solely for that purpose, Valve is changing the card drop system. Here’s the Community Blog posting, in which the company lay out their new approach.

    The scam Valve is aiming to combat involves ‘games’ created quickly and cheaply for the purpose of Trading Card farming and nothing else. Card drops are farmed by an army of Steam account bots, which then (presumably) convert the earnings into gems, and then funnel those earnings back as Steam credit. The credit could then either be sold directly via third-party means, or turned into Steam game gifts to be sold on third-party sites (though this latter method may also be harder under Steam’s gifting changes).

    Despite Valve actually making sums of money on card farming (as they get a percentage of any marketplace transactions), they still want to prevent it happening. “The problem is that these games damage something we care about a lot, because it affects all our players – the Steam Store’s algorithm,” they say.

    Under the new system, games won’t drop cards as soon as the game is released on Steam. Instead, Trading Card drops will only start to appear once a “confidence metric” has been met. This, essentially, is going to be a Valve data algorithm that decides if a game is genuine and being played by actual, real people.

    They pre-emptively address the question of why people should trust another algorithm, when their previous efforts were pretty bad at preventing ‘fake games’ (a term they use to mean games generated purely for card farming) getting through Greenlight. “Steam at large allows players to interact with games in many different ways, generating a broad set of data for each game, and that makes identifying fake ones an easier task,” says Valve.

    Peter Parrish

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