In a recent blog post, Valve talked about how they want to take the Steam community and storefront to a brighter future, better addressing the needs of both the consumer and the developer. They have now revealed the first step to be taken in order to restore the pristine image Steam used to have. Valve has acknowledged the growing problem of 'fake' games and 'bad actors' that have been taking advantage of the trading card system, and detailed their solution.
Introduced in June 2013, steam trading cards have become a staple of many games on the digital platform. In addition to be tradable between players, the cards could also be put onto Steam's digital marketplace where they could be bought and sold for real money. Over the years, an influx of shoddy and near-worthless games have flooded the Steam store, in part due to Steam's other feature, Greenlight. This new population of low-quality titles has damaged Steam's image as the go-to platform for games from AAA to indie developers.
Now Valve is seeking to fix the problem. In the old system, players would get a card drop after a set amount of time of playing the game, until they reached a cap of half the total cards needed to make a badge. The developers of the 'fake' games would generate thousands of keys for their game and distribute them to bots, who would idle in the game in order to get card drops. The cards were then sold on the marketplace, to the profit of both the developer and Valve. Valve has stated that this idling causes the algorithm Steam uses to recommend games to become skewed and inaccurate, leading to low-quality games being promoted over more worthy titles.
In the proposed system update, cards will no longer drop on day one of a game's release. Instead, the game will have to pass a "confidence metric" before cards will begin dropping. Valve has not said what information the metric will gather in order to determine the "confidence" of a game, however. Once the metric is reached, all accumulated game time the player has earned before the metric was reached will count toward card drops, so there's no worry of losing out on cards because you played the game too early.
This change does not take direct action against 'fake' games and 'bad actors,' however. Instead, it aims to reduce the incentive the 'bad actors' have at engaging in the current idle-for-cards practice. Even by Valve's own admission, though, those who want to abuse the system have continuously found ways to do so, despite Valve's efforts. More will need to be done in order to return Steam to its former glory, but this is a step in the right direction.