Valve has announced the beta launch of its Steam Trading Cards program, allowing users of the digital PC games service to earn and use game-specific virtual cards to gain discounts on games and profile flair.
The beta launch line-up includes Valve titles Dota 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Portal 2 and Half-Life 2; as well as indie survival game Don't Starve.
Participants can earn trading cards in two ways: playing the corresponding game, and trading with other players. Only half of each game's set can be earned in-game, so trading is a mandatory part of the game if you want to collect them all.
Cards can then be turned in as payment for rewards via a surprisingly deep leveling system, including profile showcases, badges, backgrounds, emoticons, game discount coupons and more.
Additional profile allowances and extra customization options seem to be the name of the meta-game. Along with all the cosmetic additions and changes that can be earned, there's even a way to increase the maximum amount of users on your friends list.
Those interested in participating can sign-up now via the Steam Trading Cards community group. Valve intends to add more games to the aforementioned line-up as they finish the corresponding set of cards and implement them into the program and the title itself.