Steam’s annual wallet sacrificing ceremony begins next week on December 15. This year will be a little bit different though, featuring a brand new “auction” event that will allow you to trade in unwanted items for a chance at “free” games.
The way it works is a little bit confusing though, so let me walk you through it.
What is going on?
As part of the Steam Holiday Sale, a select number of games will be available auction-style. Instead of bidding on them with money though, you’ll use Steam’s new pretend currency: gems.
How does that work?
Basically, you can break down unwanted trading cards, backgrounds, and emoticons from your inventory into gems. These gems are then used to bid on a bunch of auctions for different games.
You don’t need to set every bid manually though. Just like eBay, you set your max bid, and Steam will automatically increase your bid up to this amount as the auction progresses.
If you end up winning, the game will automatically be sent to you as a Gift, which you can either add to your library or your inventory.
When does it begin/end?
Bidding for the first round is happening right now, with the round ending on Monday, December 15 at 7:45 AM.
The final round of bidding will end on Thursday, December 18 at 10:00 AM.
Where do I place bids?
Valve has set up a special Holiday Auctions page here.
How often are these auctions?
Every 45 minutes beginning on December 15 at 7:45AM the top bidder will win the game. Then, all of the losing bids will carry over to the next round of bidding. 45 minutes after that, the new top bidder will win the game.
That means you don’t need to check in every 45 minutes. Just set your max bid for any games you want now, and Steam will automatically bid for you over the three day event.
Where do I get gems?
Any “community” item in your Steam inventory can be recycled into gems. That means trading cards, backgrounds, and emoticons. Booster Packs cannot be turned into gems, but they can be unpacked, with the individual cards gem-able.
To find these, go to your Steam inventory, hit the “Steam” tab, then change the dropdown from “All Steam Items” to “Community.” Clicking on an individual item will show you how many gems it is worth, and give you the option to recycle it.
Gems are also tradable and marketable, so you can purchase them from other players with real money if you want to.
What can I bid on?
You can see what games are available and bid on them here. They are currently nearly 2000 games available, including a bunch of new releases.
You can also bid on an exclusive background, the 2014 Holiday Profile.
Can I cancel my bids?
Yes you can. Go to the auction site and navigate to the My Bids section to cancel or increase any bids you have set. Your gems will be returned to you.
Can I do anything else with gems?
Gems can also be used to create trading card Booster Packs for any games you own. You can do so here.
How do I sell my gems?
To sell gems on the marketplace, you must bundle 1000 of them into a “Sack of Gems.” They can then be bought and sold through the Community Market like a commodity item.
Will my gems disappear after the event?
No, they will stay in your inventory, and can be sold or used to create Booster Packs.