After the big Steam sales, my wallet is always a little bit lighter and my Steam library is even less easy to navigate. I can’t help myself as game after good game plummets in price and looks at me teary eyed from the Steam store window, crying out to be adopted and loved. This year alone I added around twenty new games to my library, nabbing Ys Origins for less than $4, Garry’s Mod for a couple of bucks, and I’m pretty sure I ended up getting Electronic Super Joy for a button and a half eaten sandwich. Steam is crazy about their sales, and people are crazy about cheap, high quality games. By the end of the sale I had spent $50 (the price of one new console game) and received 19 new games, or enough to last me the entire year. Tell my family I love them, because they won’t be seeing me for a while.
While I felt moderately bad plopping down money day after day on games I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to for half a year at least, I felt tremendously better about myself after seeing what other people spend their money on. Sure, I might have spent $50 for games, but a Japanese gamer plopped down around $3000 for nothing. Well, not quite nothing as the money he spent went to purchase a level 1000 Steam holiday badge and a level 100 foil Steam holiday badge. So, worse than nothing, really.
For those not familiar with the badge system on Steam, you get a small number of trading cards from playing certain games or participating in big sales events and if you collect a full set you can craft a badge. For the winter sale, both the regular badge and foil badge consisted of 10 cards each. You could get a free card by voting in sales polls, crafting badges, or trading for them, but the quickest way to get them (and the method he probably used) was plopping down real money for the imaginary cards. The cards spike early on and prices varied from between 20 and 40 cents for a while, but towards the end of the sale the prices dropped down to around fifteen cents a card. Ignoring the one free card he got after crafting each badge (and assuming he was good enough with his money to wait until the prices dropped), he would have needed to purchase 9000 cards at a cost of at 15 cents a card, meaning he spent $1350 real world dollars to get the badge, or approximately $1350 dollar more than he should’ve. The foil cards were pricier at around $1.50 per card, and to get the 1000 cards he would need for a level 100 foil badge he’d need to spend another $1500 on cards.
Almost $3000. On fake cards. To get fake badges. That serve no other purpose than decorating his profile for Steam, which I remind you is not a game itself but a store for games. A very nice store that I love with all my heart, but it is still just a store. Something tells me that if Wal-Mart started giving out hats to reward customer sales, within a week the hats this man would accumulate would need to be stored in a warehouse that would become only the second man made object that could be seen from space.
Now, this man (a user by the name of PalmDessert) is a level 261 user with over 2000 games on his account. By my calculations, this should mean he gets a free pack of three cards approximately everything he blinks, so maybe he didn’t even have to use any of his own money for this as he could just be selling all the cards he doesn’t need. Or he could be some weird reclusive bajillionaire that can’t burn his money fast enough and it is threatening to drown his family so he is just wasting it any way he can think of. Crafting a badge also earned you a background, an emoticon, and an item for certain popular multiplayer games, all of which you could sell on the Steam market. Some of the rarer items sold for multiple hundred of dollars, so maybe this was some weird form of gambling for him where he just couldn’t hit the jackpot. While the man is free to spend his money on whatever he wants (and who knows how much real money he actually had to spend), I’m pretty sure if Steam was a casino the manager would have come over about halfway through his endeavor and suggested he go find some professional help.
The weirdest thing about all of this is he didn’t even max out the regular badge. The foil badge only went to 100, but the regular badge could go all the way to 2000. This means that he forced himself to stop after 1000. He reached level 1000, still had time left for more crafting, and he went to himself, “Eh, that’s enough. No reason to go for 1001. I’m not CRAZY.” At least this means he has a goal for next year!