Steam Trading Cards will be leaving beta and rolling out to all Steam users on Wednesday, June 26 at 11am PDT, according to Valve themselves. That's 7pm if you're in the UK, clock fans. But what happens after that? Valve are being coy, hinting at an upcoming event that could well be the annual Steam Summer Sale.
Steam Trading Cards are virtual items dropped randomly into your inventory while playing certain Steam games. Unlocking a full set of cards for a given game requires players to trade with other Steam users to acquire cards otherwise unattainable through play. A bit like Pokémon, but with Valve dollars. You get all sorts of prizes and badges and experience points for completing a set, along with a chance to earn discount coupons for the Steam Store.
The announcement can be found on the Steam forum, and signs off with a nod to an upcoming event, claiming that "making trading cards available to all Steam users is a step towards an event we think everyone can be excited about".
Steam's Summer Sales traditionally begin around the end of June and the beginning of July, and tend to introduce some sort of meta-game element to entice customers into emptying their wallets. Tying Trading Cards to the Summer Sale makes a whole lot of sense.
Previous Steam Summer Sale start dates are June 24, 2010, June 30, 2011 and July 12, 2012. With the sale having started on a Thursday for three years running, it wouldn't surprise us to see the event starting this week or next.
God help us.