Steam Trading Cards And Loyalty Programs

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I really have not cared at all about achievements since the Xbox 360 introduced them. I haven’t been much interested in any video game platform’s metagame until Steam trading cards came along. Steam’s latest sale seems to be finally putting the program into overdrive.

A lot of people have probably been buying and playing games a lot more for achievements, and I guess that’s Microsoft’s intent. That’s exactly the effect Steam trading cars have started to have on me. The difference is I can actually do something with the cards.

That’s been my main issue with achievements, trophies, and Steam achievements — they’re essentially worthless. I understand the sense of accomplishment from doing great things in video games, but back in the day I’d do all that because there was usually some kind of reward involved. I got a perfect score on every single level of Bomberman Hero for the N64 because it unlocked a whole extra chapter of the game. Stuff like that is all DLC today.

I understand the concern of not wanting consumers to farm points to game some kind of tangible reward system, but companies have been successful at carefully designing these things. Valve basically handles this with Steam trading cards by building it into a complex rewards program.

You don’t even have to do major things to earn cards — just play the game. Being able to trade and even sell cards for real money (even if it’s not a lot) gives them tangibility that achievements lack. Locking half the cards behind booster packs and random drops makes you want to play more games for longer. I already bought a Steam copy of The Witcher 2 — which I already own on GoodOldGames, partly for its newly-added cards.

People have already been able to use money from trading cards to buy games, essentially fulfilling the function of a loyalty program. This is ultimately what Microsoft lacks in the face of all their competitors. Steam has cards (and Team Fortress 2 items), PlayStation has PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo has Club Nintendo.

I think Microsoft has a small thing with Microsoft points, but that’s about it, and they plan to phase out Games With Gold when the Xbox One launches. I know achievements are technically already working in terms of getting customers to invest in Xbox, but I don’t think Microsoft should rest on its laurels. From what I’ve heard achievements on Xbox One will be more malleable, but I still haven’t seen anything to indicate I’ll actually be able to do something with them.

BULLETS:

  • La-Mulana is 50 percent off for the Steam sale and probably won’t go lower. http://t.co/wILFHrJMnh
  • For a lot of the indie games on the Steam sale like FTL or Rogue Legacy, you should probably check the official website. They often sell copies through there where you get both a DRM-free copy and a Steam key. Paying through the official site also ensures 100 percent of that money goes to the developer.
  • If you get either of the Witcher games during the Steam sale, remember to redeem the CD key on GOG.com to get an additional DRM-free copy, as well as a lot of cool digital extras with each game.
  • Attack on Gaben: http://youtu.be/RoGxA48HQ1g 
  • Anime News Network’s review of  Blade of the Immortal volumes 25 and 26 http://4NN.cx/125251
  • Badass of the Week: David Farragut http://t.co/GcmPNctYuL
  • Badass of the Week: Fat Henry Knox http://t.co/u8FxlfPbgJ
  • Castle Vidcons #112- The Answer is… http://t.co/vQhw6xWovN
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