I know there are free games such as Team Fortress 2 that have trading cards. Steam games that are free usually don't have trading cards so people don't just add them to their library to farm trading cards and get free money. TF2 only allows trading cards to drop when you purchase something from the ingame store.

I want to know if there was ever a free game on Steam, where you can add it to your library and get trading cards without paying anything ingame. The way I imagine this happening is if a game was free for a limited time (maybe on release or later) and when you add it to your library, you get the trading cards as if you bought the game for real. Has there ever been such a case? I'm just curious to know how Steam handles trading cards in temporarily free games.

Edit: Not a duplicate to this question, as it deals with free demos, not full games that happen to be free. Free weekend games, where the game goes back to being paid-only after the weekend, also don't count, as those are not added to your library when the weekend is over.


1 Answer 1


Different games have different requirements. Publishers/developers can choose whether the card drops will drop through in-game purchases or through buying a DLC. In the case of TF2, they choose the in-game purchases option, that means you can only get your card drops after spending $9 in that game.

Steam counts activating a license that is free as purchasing it, regardless of if you are paying something or not. So a free game like Grimm works, because you are "buying" a DLC for that game (even though the DLC is free), so you now are able to get the card drops for the base game. You do have to activate the DLC, without it the cards don't drop.

For a game like Relic Hunters Zero, it will only drops cards if you got a key from somewhere and activate it as opposed to getting it for free through steam's store.

  • So wait... with your "Grimm" example, are you talking about adding the game via activation code or by "buying" it from the store? If it's the latter, it seems very ripe for abuse if you could just get the game AND the dlc for free and still get trading cards that way. I assume you were talking about adding the game via activation code and getting the free dlc through the store front like usual?
    – user181983
    Nov 14, 2017 at 18:42
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    Nope, Grimm can be installed straight from the store completely free. It comes with 3 card drops. Nov 16, 2017 at 23:22
  • That's... very strange. Why would Valve allow this? I thought the whole point of not allowing trading cards in free games was to prevent abuse from people with multiple accounts. But here, you have a game where you just get 3 trading cards for free!
    – user181983
    Nov 17, 2017 at 9:23
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    They sell each chapter of the story as a new DLC. It seems like an all or none type of situation where there forced to give you cards for the free Chapter 1 in order to give you cards for purchasing other chapters. Nov 17, 2017 at 17:18

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