Readers, I have something to confess to you. I’ve been doing something that has started to come close to an addiction. Maybe that’s a little overdramatic but you see, in August 2013, I had issues with my pre-order of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I managed to purchase a code from Green Man Gaming which turned out to be unusable on my account which was of a different region and was not applicable for a refund. With no other options to turn to, I decided to join some buy/sell forums to somehow get the right region code. One thing lead to another and soon enough, I discovered something else.
Enter the wonderful world of Steam trading.
If you’ve read my previous post Battling with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s Region Lock or are familiar with regional pricing and regional locks on Steam, then you should already know that prices differ between stores in different countries and that there are games that are not available in certain stores as well. Trading is a loophole to both of those in a majority of cases and can be used to earn some money if one plays the trading game correctly.
Ever since I joined the Steam trading scene in October, I’ve completed almost 50 trades and the number of games on my account went from 88 to my current 133. (That’s including one or two bundles I bought myself, but it’s still a pretty big jump I think.) I’ve paid with Steam trading cards, I’ve paid with TF2 keys and I’ve paid with my Paypal funds, for games being sold at incredible discounts. At one point, I invested in a cheap 4-pack that I redeemed myself and sold the extra copies of — earning myself more than US$10 worth of profit.
As a college student with limited finances, the Steam trading scene is a godsend. Every dollar or even cent saved contributes to my ability to purchase other games in the future. And if you have no use for those trading cards in your inventory, you can trade those off for a cheap Steam key or two and essentially get games for free. Like many others before me, I drowned myself in this world of cheaper games. I spent a lot of time in places like Steamtrades, Steam Game Swap and Indie Game Swap, looking for the best deals. I was hooked.
Realization smacked me in the face a few weeks ago. I stared at the number of games I had and started thinking: What’s the point in spending so much time trying to get as many games as possible when I’m not even spending enough time playing them? Many of the games I acquired were only bought on impulse. A majority of the ones I got “for free” by paying with Steam trading cards were only ones that I wanted because they gave out trading cards themselves and weren’t actually games that I could imagine myself playing. That’s when I decided that I needed to play more and trade less, because I was unnecessarily investing too much of my time and money on finding cheap games.
Nowadays, I’ve been cutting down on acquiring new games. I only make concessions for games I know I’ll be playing immediately after purchase but I don’t plan to cut myself off completely from the Steam trading scene. After all, savings are still savings. While you may call me out for not “fully supporting” the developers, the truth of the matter is if I’m unable or not willing to spend money on the full price of the game, I wouldn’t have purchased it at all or would’ve waited for a Steam sale anyway. Perhaps when I get a better paycheck, I’ll be paying full price for a majority of my games but I predict Steam trading will still play a part in some of my game acquisitions. But never again will I fall victim to the temptations of irrationally expanding my game collection. I consider myself lucky that this addiction didn’t last longer than it did.