Nick J. June 25, 2020
After months of hints that serious profile customization was coming to the Steam platform, Valve finally released the Steam points store today. Using points gained by purchasing games on Steam, users can now customize their profile in crazy new ways.
Points are retroactive starting with the end of the Lunar New Year event, meaning that when users log into Steam starting on June 25 they'll most likely already have a fair amount of points ready to spend on Steam's new customizable profiles and chat stickers. There are an incredible number of customization options available from some of the most famous games in the world in Steam's new points store. Valve's own games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are present, but other games including The Witcher 3, Doom Eternal, and more have also made it into the Steam points store debut.
Users used to be able to grab Steam profile backgrounds and game emoticons through Steam's trading card system. When users collected all the trading cards associated with a game, they could craft a game badge and have a chance of receiving a random emoticon or profile background from that game. Steam's trading cards aren't going away, but the Steam Points store is the now only way for users to obtain those items.
There are a couple of new rules surrounding Steam points, and none are particularly surprising. Anything bought with Steam points cannot be traded or sold, and points gained from a purchase are deleted if that purchase is refunded. On the other hand, Valve says that Steam points will never expire, so users will always have access to the points awarded from their purchases.
Here's every new option Valve added to user profiles with the debut of the Steam points store.
Steam points bring back golden profiles, introduce animated borders
With Steam's Lunar New Year event, users who spent enough money to level their badge received a golden profile background. It included a portrait border that would appear around their photo in Steam chat, as well as a snazzy background for the profile itself. The Steam points store has brought it back in all of its golden glory. For 5,000 Steam points, users can wear the golden portrait for 30 days until it's gone forever. Even better, the profile's background is animated, with flecks of gold swirling around behind the user's information.
In addition to the golden profile, the Steam points store also sells animated profile borders with themes like "Neon," and the orange and blue portal effects from Valve's Portal series. There are also profile borders that aren't animated but are instead tied to specific games. CSGO, for example, has a profile picture border made up of the famous weapon skin from the shooter, the Dragon Lore. Other examples include CSGO's Cerberus and a Steam profile border titled "Bone Metal."
Bone Metal is part of what Valve is calling "The Debut Collection," an assembly of chat stickers, backgrounds, profile borders, and emoticons to celebrate the launch of the Steam points store. The collection even includes animated profile avatars. These are another new addition, and Valve naming it a collection means that it's likely that the developer will continue to release more items for purchase using Steam's new currency.
On top of the fancy new effects available for profiles, users now have an entire library of premade avatars to choose from that come straight from their own game library. Similar to how Blizzard's Battle.net client has users choose from a list of illustrations of characters from its games, Steam users now have the same option. Avatar availability currently seems limited to certain games, and are only available from games that a user currently owns.
Steam's chat functionality gets huge facelift with Steam points launch
There are a ton of other options available for purchase in the Steam Points store, with the majority of the stores options made up of new chat emoticons. Most center around Valve's own games, but there are a slew of other games that are represented in the Steam Points upon release. Some stickers are slickly animated while others are static, but all look fantastic when compared to Steam's old emoticons. CSGO, Half-Life: Alyx, and Dota 2 make big appearances in the reveal. CSGO in particular has received special attention.
There's a sticker for everyone in the inaugural Steam Points store release, with fans of Dark Souls, The Witcher, Hollow Knight, and other popular games all having something to choose from.
Steam points store comes with upgradable badge, profile UI overhaul
It wouldn't be a new Steam event unless Valve put a badge on it. With 20 levels, the badge is by far the largest badge available to Steam users. To upgrade the badge from level one to level 20, players will have to drop 20,000 Steam Points for the honor. It's likely that this will now be the way that users upgrade badges instead of the current trading card system, and it makes sense for Valve to make that switch. Valve makes little from the sale of trading cards on its marketplace, and this change is another push for users to spend real money on the Steam Store. Regardless, users can expect any new seasonal badge from Valve to use their Steam points on.
Finally, Valve now allows users to essentially honor a post, guide, or screenshot using Steam points. There are two new badges available that use this function. One of the badges is awarded for upvoting posts with Steam points, while the other is awarded for having users upvote a player's own content.
Steam points comes with a completely overhauled profile user interface. While all of the content is still there, Valve has clearly taken the time to tidy up its aging UI. Located in the new "Edit Profile" option, is where users can find the entrance to the Steam points store going forward.
The release confirms reports by WIN.gg that Valve was exploring a points system to reward purchases by users made on its Steam platform. While Valve hasn't mentioned whether or not Steam points will be used for in-store discounts in the future, a large part of Steam's trading card minigame was that users could receive coupons for games when they crafted badges. If Valve moves to a similar system with its new points, then the software developer is just a step away from creating its own loyalty rewards program.
Either way, Valve's Steam points update is a huge change for the Steam ecosystem and only strengthens the company's hold on the PC gaming space. June 25 marks the first day of the Steam Summer Sale, a two-week discount extravaganza where users see massive discounts on games big and small. With all the hype surrounding Steam Points, fans should probably expect more news from Valve in the future.