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Steam Auction launch backfires, is withdrawn

Valve forced to take system offline after users find exploit

UPDATE

The Gem Auction is now back online, with the exploit having been eradicated.

A new Steam initiative was launched and subsequently taken down over night after users apparently discovered a way to exploit the system and amass huge quantities of a bespoke online currency.

The Valve Steam Holiday Auction invited Steam customers to swap trading cards, backgrounds, emoticons and other community items for Steam gems, which could then be wagered in auctions for games on the online service. 100 copies each of nearly 2000 games were due to be auctioned to the highest gem bidders in this way, with auctions taking place hourly from December 15. Gems could also be used to create trading card booster packs.

However, not long after the program was launched, it was withdrawn. Steam users on Reddit quickly noticed that there had been some suspicious activity going on, with some users amassing seemingly impossible amounts of gems in a short space of time.

Now, the gems have disappeared, but the cards and, according to some reports, the cash, that was traded for them haven't reappeared. Consequently, many are calling for a roll-back which will return people's accounts and inventories to their previous states. So far, Valve has acknowledged the system's withdrawal but has yet to give an official explanation or an indication of whether it will return.

"Sorry, but there have been some issues with Gems and the Steam Holiday Auction has been temporarily closed," reads a statement on the Steam website. "The elves are working frantically to get the issues sorted out, and the auction will start again as soon as they're done."

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Latest comments (8)

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
Oh those cheeky little gamers, gaming everything they touch. :D
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George Williams Owner 4 years ago
I saw a game on there yesterday with a bid of over 260k gems. I fell off my chair as a trading card was only worth between 20-30 gems etc. So something was fishy
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Andrew Clayton Assistant Designer, EA DICE4 years ago
When I tried to buy more gems on the community marketplace, they were going for an average lowest price of around $0.16 per 1000. At that same time, the Winter Theme was going for 200,000 gems (roughly $30). A number of posts I've seen online said that the same theme was going for over 2 million gems before it got pulled. $300 for a theme?

This isn't to mention all of the other games available. I horde my items from previous sales, so after i cleaned those out I came out with about 3000 gems. Even if I threw all of these gems into the pot, this would not have been enough to win all but the lowest bids of items (Indie Game: The Movie was going for around 2,700. Goat Simulator for around 5,000).
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Show all comments (8)
Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 4 years ago
It's completely pointless to have an auction. I have just looked at the 135 pages and every single one of them is above 2000 gems. Sure I could comb through my inventory of 147 items, force open 10+ games where I can get 5+ cards, with a probability of getting duplicate cards or spend money on the marketplace but I think I will just wait for 18th December for the real steam sale.

Sure just because I don't like this "gamble" it shouldn't mean it shouldn't be attempted or done but I don't think this was a decently prepped or executed feature this year.

The fact that things can't be undone after converting items, means that after this auction sale, I'm either going to have gems left over or actually lost out on selling a few of those duplicates...
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Enrique Echeagaray Programmer 4 years ago
@Andrew Clayton
When I tried to buy more gems on the community marketplace, they were going for an average lowest price of around $0.16 per 1000. At that same time, the Winter Theme was going for 200,000 gems (roughly $30). A number of posts I've seen online said that the same theme was going for over 2 million gems before it got pulled. $300 for a theme?
To be precise, the theme ended with 7 000 100 gems before everything was pulled down.
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Andreia Quinta Photographer, Studio52 London4 years ago
The idea is pretty interesting, it's a way for people to clean up their inventories of useless items that you can never sell, not even for 1p, no one would buy them since they either a) have no use or b) are unappealing (backgrounds, generic icons, etc).

However in execution it seems to be underdeveloped, at least to embrace the entire Steam community as the auction gems prices are quite steep for those who don't breathe and live out of steam. I reckon they could have also made a way to spend gems to buy cards to finish off incomplete sets, that would give players without many gems something to look forward to while the big fish played around with their thousands or millions of gems.
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 4 years ago
Aye pretty much my thoughts Andreia.

Declutter inventories by converting into gems. Use gems to create booster packs ( which they allow) or to buy missing cards/trade them. That's where all my gems are going at the moment
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Jordi Rovira i Bonet Lead Engineer, Anticto4 years ago
If you look at this auction as a way to get cheaper games then yes, it is a failure.

But I see it as a game itself, with some little rewards if you just play with the gems generated from things you didn't have any use for. In my particular case it pulled me to find out more about the Steam community features and has led me to crafting some badges and buying and selling cards for the first time out of curiosity. It also led me to finding out more about previously unknown games.

For all those in a similar position, it is "mission accomplished" for Valve.
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