Steam now has trading-cards which can be crafted into badges and other marketable items. That link states that trading-cards can be crafted into badges, and that

If you gather another complete set of trading cards you can upgrade that game badge.

However, it also says

Most games will drop a number of cards equal to about half of the number of cards in that game's set of cards.

Does this mean the only way to get the second+ level of a badge is through trading? Or does my "drop counter" reset once I've crafted the badge for that game?

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    In case the counter won't reset, trading is not the only way to get more trading cards - you can also buy them at Steam Marketplace. – Lukas Stejskal May 20 '13 at 14:05

I'll explain this in two parts:

Badges, badger

The Green box highlights a F2P game utilizing a Micro-Transaction model. As you can see, it says "no card drops remaining". But I can get more if I purchase any item from the store in increments of $9.00 (ie I spend $18.00, I get 2 cards). Thus, for games like TF2, you don't necessarily have to trade to get a badge Lvl2+ (but is advisable).

If you look at the red box, however, since Bit.Trip Runner2 is a paid game, it features a permanent drop counter. Meaning, once the 3 card drops I have left are given, there will be no more card drops, by playing the game. Once you've received all possible card drops, you may receive a booster pack, which contains 3 cards, either basic or foil. The rate at which these booster packs appear in your inventory depends on your steam level and as game badges are crafted by the community. Keep this in mind if you plan to sell or trade those cards out.

Associated question: How do trading card booster packs drop?

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  • Ah, that's good to know. I was wondering why TF2 cards were worth so much less than cards for all the other games. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 5 '13 at 2:23
  • Yeah, and it makes it substantially easier to hit Level 10 by buying cards off the Market. Only about $4.00 to level up a tf2 badge – sayu Jun 5 '13 at 19:09

Unfortunately, the drop counter never resets.

You can increase it in F2P games at the rate of one card per $9 though, and when other people craft badges there's a chance that you can get a booster pack containing three card, it being more likely the higher level you are.

The main way you'll have to do it though is to buy them from people or farm them with alt accounts.

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    So the only way to ever even get one game badge is to buy it with real money? Jeez, what a cynical cash grab. – a cat May 21 '13 at 8:28
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    @lunboks: Unless you want to pay with Scrap Metal or hats or something, yeah. =/ It also might be worth noting that Valve doesn't directly sell them though; they just just take a 15% fee. – Ullallulloo May 21 '13 at 14:16
  • @lunboks: Or to trade the cards you have with the cards you want.. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 21 '13 at 16:18
  • @BlueRaja Huh? If I do that, I just end up having the cards I needed and needing the cards I had. – a cat May 21 '13 at 17:08
  • @lunboks: You can trade cards from one game for cards from another game. You won't be able to get badges for both games without trading something other than cards, but it is certainly possible to "ever even get one game badge" solely by trading cards. And if you have even some semi-crappy TF2 items, you can pretty easily get the cards you need for both badges without spending any money. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 21 '13 at 17:22

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