Each -enabled game has a certain number of cards that are automatically earned just by spending time playing the game. (3-5 from what I've seen so far) What I haven't been able to figure out is, how long does this take?

How many minutes do I have to spend playing each game before I earn the first (and second, third, etc) card drop? Is it randomized or fixed? Are they the same for every game?

  • 2
    possible duplicate of How do I pick up trading cards?
    – user9983
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 0:14
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    @OrigamiRobot: That is related but not a duplicate. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 0:15
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft I think drop interval definitely falls under "How do I get cards?" Your votes are your own.
    – user9983
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 0:18

4 Answers 4


Typically you get one drop about every 15, 30 or 60 minutes of "gameplay" depending on the game.

By gameplay, of course, I mean "have the game running", and by "have the game running" I mean "the border of your avatar changes from blue to green." For example, for Trine 2, idling in the launcher counts as gameplay.

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Hot Trine 2 gameplay action

From personal experience, it appears that you can get a drop every ~15 minutes so long as you restart the game after every drop.

  • 1
    Fits with my experiences, but do you have a source you can link to?
    – Batophobia
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:20
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    @DavidStarkey I do not. It's just what I experienced.
    – badp
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 21:35
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    For some games you can even have multiple games running at the same time to get cards from them. I just started my 7th game running at the same time, gotten cards from 5 of them so far, I will get back once I have done some more testing.
    – Blem
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 10:46
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    I find the rate varies per game. Most games in the last few days have dropped cards at 23, 43, 63, and 83 minutes or something like that while some have been at longer or shorter intervals. The intervals seem consistent within each game possibly relative to the number of drops available to that game, but not across all games. Most games with 4 card drops drop them in 90 minutes or so. For ones with more or less cards, my experience is that the rate seems a bit different.
    – skovacs1
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 23:03
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    FYI I just played Awesomenauts for slightly under four hours straight, and only got three cards; Steam did not disconnect at all. So it seems it takes 1 hour/card for that game. Other games I've verified to have 15 or 30 minutes per card. So it appears to vary by game. Unfortunately my +50 rep bounty does not seem to have been enough to encourage someone else to experiment; I think I will do some experimentation of my own, and report back later. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 0:39

From my experience, it depends on what game it is. For Terraria and Bastion, I noticed it was roughly every 30 minutes. With Surgeon Simulator 2013, I know I was in game for at least 45 minutes before one dropped. For FTL, I can't remember exactly, but I think it was somewhere from 30-45 minutes per card.

I'd be happy to try out other games and time them, if you want. There are a ton of games I have that I haven't touched since they started using cards, so I have all my drops.


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

"Free to play games drop game cards based on your in-game purchasing. For every $9 USD spent (approximate) since the start of the Steam Trading Card Beta, you will earn one card drop. This card will drop at some point as you play."

Now to answer your question: After reading 30+ user's comments on this question it appears to be that the cards drop randomly. While the game is running (you don't have to actually be playing it).

Also according to a user on steam: "The commonly held theory is that 1 booster pack is generated every time a badge is created. We're pretty sure it's not time based, but we don't have a lot of data so no one's certain."

Sources: http://steamcommunity.com/tradingcards/faq/ http://steamcommunity.com/groups/tradingcards/discussions/1/864971765638107405/

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    I'm aware the cards drop randomly, but I'm interested in the nature of the randomness. :)
    – Brant
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 2:44
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    I don't think this is true - the timing seems pretty consistent, per-game; but the timing is different for each game. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 3:03

It is worth adding to the answers already given, that due to a change in the algorithm in 2015 to stop refund fraud (See this comment about the steam anouncement) you need to have at least 2 hours gameplay before any cards will start dropping.

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