Recycle your unwanted Steam junk to bid on games (Update)

Time to clear out trading cards, backgrounds, and emoticons

[Update: The auction has been temporarily shut down, most likely due to the incredible amount of Gem Sacks that were being sold on the marketplace, driving the cost down and inflating the auctions. There are suspicions that users found a way to duplicate Gem Sacks. Currently, the official word is “Sorry, but there have been some issues with Gems and the Steam Holiday Auction has been temporarily closed. The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out, and the auction will start again as soon as they’re done.”]

It’s that time of year again, when Valve comes up with some new and interesting way to separate players from their money while convincing them that it is a good deal. This time around Valve is putting on an auction. Up to 200,000 games will be sold off to the highest bidder of each round.

The catch? The currency at play here is gems, which can be obtained by cashing in Steam trading cards, profile backgrounds, and emoticons. All of that junk sitting in Steam inventories that never gets used can be put toward a free game. Of course, everybody else will be doing the same, so you might have to grind for additional gems by doing the whole trading card thing. Play games that drop cards, craft badges to get backgrounds and emoticons, and then convert them all to gems. That’s how they get you.

Bidding on the first round of auctions has already begun, but the auction officially kicks off on December 15 at 7:00 AM Pacific, with each bidding round lasting 45 minutes. The auction ends on December 18 at 10:00 AM Pacific. In true Valve form, the back story for this seedy holiday black market has been presented in comic form.

Darren Nakamura
Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. He produced the Zero Cool Podcast for about four years, and he plays board games quite a bit when he can find willing companions.