Keenly aware that people's Steam accounts are filling up with garbage - like cards and emoticons - Valve is giving people a chance to pulp them and turn them into what are essentially Steam Bucks. And then use them to bid on real games.
It's called the Steam Holiday Auction, and works like this:
This holiday season, Valve is introducing a new event that gives gamers the chance to recycle Community items in their Steam Inventory for new games. From now through next Thursday, gamers may recycle unused items - such as Trading Cards, backgrounds, and emoticons - and exchange them for "Steam Gems." Then gamers may use those Gems to bid on nearly 200,000 new games. The bidding begins now, with new Auction Rounds happening every 45 minutes, Monday through Thursday morning.
If you're outbid on a "free" game, the only way to increase your betting pool is to buy more games that have cards. So you can destroy them to get more gems to bid on more games. For reference, most cards seem to be worth around 20 gems, while the games are going for thousands, of not tens of thousands of gems.
Seems messy, and geared exclusively towards selling loads of copies of cheap games that are offering the very things Valve is running an auction on because people want to get rid of them.
Not sure if cunning or ridiculous.