Valve appear to have opened a new game-recycling service ahead of the rumoured Steam Winter Sale. Not only can users purchase games, earn Steam trading cards through play and turn them into badges, backgrounds and emoticons – they can now break down those Steam Community items into gems and use the twinkly currency to bid on different games at auction.
At time of writing, Valve have briefly taken the auction offline to tackle some emerging gem exploits. Once it’s back, this first round of auctions will end in three days’ time, on Monday 15 December at 7:45 AM PST / 2:45pm GMT.
After that, it’ll work thusly: every 45 minutes Valve will put up a block of games for auction. Users can bid on them with gems, and the winning bid gets the game. The last auction round will end on Thursday 18 December at 10am PST / 5pm GMT.
On paper, it sounds like there aren’t going to be many winners. But Valve insist that there’ll be 100 copies of about 2000 games up for auction – leading to a grand total of 200,000 giveaways.
You can make gems by recycling eligible Steam Community items in your inventory – visible by mousing over the Steam tab and selecting ‘Community’. There, you can see the gem value of each item and an option to mash it into its component parts.
You can then select a game from the Auctions list and enter your bid, which can be increased at any time. You can cancel a bid, too, so long as it’s not the top one. Also worth noting: unless you cancel your bid or win the game, your bid will carry over to the next auction round.
Gems won’t be entirely useless once the auction ends on Thursday – they can be used to create Steam trading card booster packs, and expect to see them become currency on the Steam Community Market. It’s all a bit Hearthstone.
Elsewhere, you can bid on a special profile item called the 2014 Holiday Profile, and win any auction to get the 2014 Holiday Auction badge. Good grief – Steam is getting so gamey it’s starting to suffer from feature creep. Do you think you’ll bid on something?