Summer has arrived, and for many gamers that means one thing: the commencement of the annual Steam Summer Sale.

The highly anticipated event, in which digital distribution platform Steam offers up massive discounts for thousands of games in its catalog, normally begins at the end of June or beginning of July. Last year, the sale began on July 12 and lasted through July 22. In 2011, it kicked off on June 30 and ran through July 10.

With the recent launch of Valve’s Steam Trading Cards -- a newly announced system where gamers would receive virtual trading cards to earn rewards such as game badges, profile backgrounds, emoticons and coupons for playing games on the Steam platform -- speculation on the exact start date for this year’s Steam Summer Sale has reached fever pitch.

News of the trading cards leaving beta was confirmed on the Steam forum last week by Valve developer John Cook. The card system had been available in beta to some Steam users for the past month, and it officially launched on Wednesday.

Games featured in the beta version of Steam Trading Cards include “Don't Starve,” “Dota 2,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” “Team Fortress 2,” “Portal 2,” “Half-Life 2,” “FTL,” “1...2...3.. Kick It!,” “Strike Suit Infinity,” “Zach Zero” and “Tower Wars,” according to High-Def Digest. More will be added in the future.

"We'll be continuing to iterate on existing features and add new ones after the release,” Cook wrote. "There are a few things we have talked about previously that we really wanted to get to, that have now been pushed till post-release — Trade Offers, and the Card Binder. They will still get done, [but] we just don't have an exact timeline on that."

Cook’s announcement ends with this tantalizing line: “Making trading cards available to all Steam users is a step towards an event we think everyone can be excited about...” Many in the gaming community are speculating that this is a reference to the official launch date for the Steam Summer Sale.

As PCGamesN points out, the sale has kicked off on a Thursday for the previous three years, so it’s only reasonable to assume that this year’s event will begin on July 4 or 11. But nothing has been confirmed.

Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by Valve Corp.