I have just been browsing all my friend’s profile, and I notice the majority of them has some Steam Card Bot added, typically trading sets of cards for keys (eg: 20 sets for a key).
Tons can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/r/SteamTradingCards/
But how do these bots profit? Most bots are selling 18-22 sets per key, and there are on average 7 cards per set. At that rate, each card is about $0.01 with $0.007 profit margin.
I recently read this article: http://steamcommunity.com/games/593110/announcements/detail/1954971077935370845
And I quote
These fake developers take advantage of a feature we provide to all developers on Steam, which is the ability to generate Steam keys for their games. They generate many thousands of these keys and hand them out to bots running Steam accounts, which then idle away in their games to collect Trading Cards. Even if no real players ever see or buy one of these fake games, their developers make money by farming cards.
But to my knowledge, you need to spend at least $5 to trade those farmed cards:
You will need to spend at least $5.00 USD within the Steam store. Click here to view your current limited user spend.
Some examples of purchases that grant access to these features are:
Adding the equivalent of $5 USD or more to your Steam Wallet
Purchasing game(s) that are equal to $5 USD or more from the Steam store
Adding a Steam Wallet card that is equal to $5 USD or more to your Steam account
Purchasing a Steam gift that is equal to $5 USD or more from the Steam store (Receiving a Steam gift from a friend doesn’t count)
Each Steam purchase total will be tracked in USD. If your Steam store’s currency isn’t in USD, it will be tracked and converted to USD automatically using daily exchange rates.
If they were to spend $5 per bot, they need to at least farm 2 (~$2.50 per key) * 20 (avg cards per key) * 7 (avg cards per set) = 280 cards to make zero-sum (break even). Keep in mind that for each game, you only get a certain amount of cards max. Next, let’s pretend an avg game has 10 cards, that’s 28 fake games the bot needs to farm. Steam Direct (replacement of Steam Greenlight) cost you $100 to put your game on Steam store.
With all the information available, let’s recalculate that, 28 (“fake games”) * 100 (Steam Direct fee) = $2800 worth of fake games. To make zero-sum, 1120 (~2.50 per key) * 20 * 7 = 156,800 cards are required. If on average each bot gets 5 cards per game, that’s 140 cards per bot. This means, 1120 bots are required to farm enough for zero-sum and that’s just zero-sum.
Of course, these are just estimations, they could just have 1 game, and only 40 bots are required, but most of these card bots have hundreds of different game cards. It’s highly impractical as they need some source to deposit that $5. Surely Steam could pick up that the same payment source is used for thousands of bots and game fees. So, that can’t be it, here’s why:
Steam recently added restrictions to brand new game trading cards:
Instead of starting to drop Trading Cards the moment they arrive on Steam, we’re going to move to a system where games don’t start to drop cards until the game has reached a confidence metric that makes it clear it’s actually being bought and played by genuine users. Once a game reaches that metric, cards will drop to all users, including all the users who’ve played the game prior to that point. So going forward, even if you play a game before it has Trading Cards, you’ll receive cards for your playtime when the developer adds cards and reaches the confidence metric.
But yet these “level up bot” prices just keep getting better and better. What am I missing here?