[Update: Hours after this post was written, game creator Steve Hunt has revised his plans, now offering the Gold Ship behind the Foil Badge, placing a new Mini-Gold Ship behind the Level 1 Badge, and putting the now cosmetic only Dragon Ship with the Level 5 Badge. Offering an apology on the Steam forums, He states that he was confused by the trading card system, and unaware of its interactions with the Community Market. The original article is preserved below.]
The ongoing gamification of Steam continues with Tuesday’s announcement that Beat Hazard will be the first game on Valve’s digital distribution platform to award in game content to users of its new Trading Cards system. Users who earn a Level 5 Beat Hazard Badge will receive the Gold Ship, a cosmetic update which was previously only offered during a prior Steam summer sale. Getting the badge to level 5 will be quite a challenge, as users only receive 4 card drops from playing the game itself. A Level 1 Badge can be redeemed by trading in a complete set of 7 cards, and then players can repeat that process 4 more times in order to get the Level 5 Badge. Those seeking the Gold Ship are therefore required to seek out and trade for at least 31 unique cards, or buy them on the Community Market for an average of 15 cents a pop, with a small percentage of that money going into Valve’s pockets.
An even dicer proposition is the Dragon Ship, which is purported to be a faster, yet less maneuverable vessel then the default ship, offering players a new way to play. However, in order to get to that content, these players will have to craft the game’s Foil Badge, which can be obtained by trading in a complete set of seven rare foil cards. Foils can be equated to purple loot in Action RPG lingo, meaning that the majority of players will not even get one from their allotted card drops for the game (In fact, despite having gotten my card drops for a dozen Steam games, I still have yet to receive my first foil). The only other way for players to get this new content would be to again look at the Community Market, which as of this writing has 62 total foil cards up for sale at an average price of $2.50 to $3 each. Realistically speaking, this means that this Dragon Ship content, which alters gameplay, will cost interested players close to $20.
Having written about Trading Cards in the past, I’m both pleased and disheartened to see the MMO qualities of this system come to fruition so quickly. I’m interested to see the reaction from the gaming populace at this new DLC method, and whether other indie publishers see fit to lock skins or small gameplay tweaks behind Trading Cards. Only time will tell if this will be a one off oddity or a new horse armor moment for the industry.