Monday, December 15, 2014

In which I make a killing (not!) selling Steam trading cards.

I don't really understand Steam trading cards. I know they appear in my Steam inventory when I play games and I am vaguely aware that they come in sets which can be collected to make something else (badges apparently). I have never made a badge and I never even been fortunate enough to acquire a complete set. In fact I don't think that is even without actively buying cards. I would happily ignore the whole business except for the fact that they are trade-able. Trading cards can be bought and sold on the Steam community market for real money (well actually Steam credit but given that I have an ongoing healthy expenditure on games it amounts to the same thing).

Every time you examine a trading card in your inventory it tells you how much similar cards are selling for on the Steam market. This causes me angst. There is a market out there with buyers and sellers. There is money to be made and money to be lost.  I image that Gevlon Goblin, if he ever discovers the Steam market will quickly figure out a way to acquire every game on Steam for free through repeatedly playing the first level of Portal over and over all the while berating morons and slackers like me  who can't figure out how to win the market. 

The trouble is most of the cards you get are worth only a few cents and Valve takes a cut of any sale reducing the proceeds even further. It hardly seems worth the effort of placing such cards on the market. I have in the past sold a few rarer items that sold for 50c or more but these are rare drops and my inventory was stuffed with cheap cards. 

This week Valve introduced a new auction mini-game that involves converting unwanted cards into gems that can be used to bid for games. However little I understand trading cards I understand gem auctions even less. People seem to be bidding crazy amounts for run of the mill games and there has already been a duping scandal. Regardless the demand for gems seems to have injected a bit of life into the trading card market and I noticed a slight upward trend in prices and as being a little bit bored the evening before last I decided that this would be a good time to sell everything. 

I listed around all my trading cards at what I judged to be the going market rate and they have been selling actively since.  I have sold about 70 cards so far netting a grand total of €4.51 and if the 45 remaining items sell I could end up with more than €6 worth of Steam credit for the half an hour of effort it took to list them all. Ignoring the fact that I had to buy and play the games originally that is slightly better than minimum wage for the time spent listing cards.  

I strongly suspect that Steam Trading tycoons would laugh at my clumsy sell off. No doubt there are ways to cleverly double and triple profits by crafting this and trading that. Regardless it feels somewhat refreshing to have a clean Steam inventory. I am also going to try and use the few euro in credit somewhat creatively. I will buy something in the Christmas sale that I would not normally buy. 

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