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So today I woke up and noticed new item in inventory which was a booster pack containing 3 cards from L4D 2. From what I see on market these booster packs are new (graph only shows up to 19 of June). No matter the game it seems to always contain 3 cards. There are two actions I can do with it: unpack or sell. There is fancy animation when you unpack the booster ;)

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I'm not exactly sure why I got it, I have few guesses:

  • I got new badge, power player - this could give me a booster?
  • Because of new badge I reached level 10 - maybe every couple levels there are gifts?
  • It just dropped randomly for everyone?

Maybe together we could rule out above guesses. It's also interesting from the point of market, to estimate how many boosters are there. With some games they seem to be more valuable than 3 cards separately, but that maybe only initial confusion.

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I would encourage you to post your own answer with the FAQ stuff. –  Ullallulloo Jun 28 '13 at 0:58
    
Done. Hope that's what you meant. –  slawek Jun 29 '13 at 17:12
    
Yep, that's nice. :) –  Ullallulloo Jun 29 '13 at 17:38
    
One important thing to notice: Every time someone creates a badge out of some game's cards, one of the users already having that badge and being active last week will get a booster pack (lvl of the badge doesn't matter). They more badges players are crafting, the more chance you'll get a booster pack, so the faster you'll craft your badge (while less players having the game), the more chances you have that it'll pay off. –  Tarec Aug 14 '13 at 17:08
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4 Answers

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Booster pack drops are random

They drop randomly for players who have:

  • Completed all of the available trading card drops for a game
  • Used Steam during the last week

These players will randomly receive booster packs. These packs contain three additional cards for the game, and may contain foils.

Note, this does not mean that you have to have crafted a badge for a game, simply that you have collected all of the cards.

Source: Steam Trading Card Beta Community Announcement

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Now someone just needs to find out what "used Steam" means. –  lunboks Jun 20 '13 at 9:14
    
logged into, I assume - you don't need to be playing a game to get one of these card packs –  kalina Jun 20 '13 at 9:14
    
They can drop at any time, sure, but maybe you need a minimum level of activity. When you're just logged in, you're not really "using" Steam for anything. –  lunboks Jun 20 '13 at 9:27
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The "how do i get drops" popup suggests the number of boosters distributed is linked to the number of badges crafted by Steam users. –  kotekzot Jun 21 '13 at 8:13
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@kalina I believe it says the more badges people craft, the more boosters are distributed to random users. I doubt you've crafted enough badges to make a global difference. –  kotekzot Jun 21 '13 at 10:18
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Per recommendation I extracted this from question to answer.

Valve released an announcement on June 19th on the Steam Trading Group with more details and updated the FAQ. Here's extract from the announcement:

Booster Pack Eligibility - you can now confirm your eligibility for a booster pack drop from your badges page. Just click on "How do I earn card drops", and the dialog will tell you if you are eligible to receive booster packs for that game.

Here's extract from the FAQ as of 29.06.2013 :

How can I get a booster pack?

Once you have received all of your card drops, you become eligible for a booster > pack, which is a set of 3 trading cards that may include both basic and foil cards. Booster packs are granted randomly to eligible users as more badges are crafted by members of the community. Make sure you log in to Steam each week to maintain eligibility.

Once eligible, your Steam Level increases your rate of receiving a booster pack drop:

Level 10: +20% increase in your drop rate

Level 20: +40% increase in your drop rate

Level 30: +60% increase in your drop rate

Level 40: +80% increase in your drop rate

Level 50: +100% increase in your drop rate (i.e. the rate has doubled)

Etc.

How do I know if I can get card drops and booster packs?

From your Badges page, the “How do I earn card drops?” window shows you how many card drops you have earned, how to get more, and if you are currently eligible for a booster pack drop.

Here's how example eligibility info looks like for the Super Meat Boy game (note it maybe differ per game):

Booster pack eligibility

I think it answers most questions and doubts.

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I received mine while not actively using Steam, it was just running in the background - I saw the notification pop up. Got a L4D2 booster pack, though my last played games were TF2, Super Meat Boy and Trine 2.

I had of course exhausted all my free card drops a while earlier. Until we get more data it'll be hard to tell how random the drops can be and if there's any sort of time limit or cap on them.

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You only can get booster packs if all droppable cards have been obtained, wait time any where from 1 min to 7 days to get boosters. You do not have to playing a game that supports the card system to get boosters. You MUST log in once a week to maintain que for droppable boosters.

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