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Trading cards are, naturally, the basis of entire Steam trading card system. Each game has 5 to 15 cards, of which you get 1/2 (rounded up) for purchasing and playing the game, or for Free to Play games, you earn them for making purchases of DLC or in-game content. The cards you get are random; it is common to get duplicates rather than each card being different.

As of June 17, 2015, you must play a game for a minimum of 2 hours before you'll receive a card from a game. This is because of the addition of the Steam refund system, where you can get a refund for any game that you've purchased in the last 2 weeks that has less than 2 hours of playtime. After the first 2 hours of play time, card drops will occur as normal. Exception: If you have owned the game for more than two weeks before registering any play time, card drops can (but might not) drop sooner than the first 2 hours of gameplay.

There are also Foil Trading Cards, which are much rarer than the normal version. Any time a trading card is created, either through their initial generation or by opening a booster pack, there's a small chance that you'll get the foil version instead.

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