In an effort to curb the growing phishing and spam issues on Steam, Valve has introduced a few rules over the weekend that lock down accounts until money has been spent.
Going forward, users will have had to spend a minimum of 5 US dollars in order to unlock all the features of Steam. These new rules lock accounts out of the social aspects of the service.
Limited users will not have access to the following features:
- Sending friend invites
- Opening group chat
- Voting on Greenlight, Steam Reviews and Workshop items
- Participating in the Steam Market
- Posting frequently in the Steam Discussions
- Gaining Steam Profile Levels (Locked to level 0) and Trading Cards
- Submitting content on the Steam Workshop
- Posting in an item’s Steam Workshop Discussions
- Accessing the Steam Web API
- Using browser and mobile chat
Unlocking these features will require spending money on the Steam store in one way or another. Adding money to your account from a Steam card does count, but receiving a gifted game, or adding a retail CD key will not help.
Valve justifies this practice by explaining that the majority of spam and phishing is done by accounts with no investment into the platform. By restricting that group of people, it makes those malicious acts much less justifiable.
“We’ve chosen to limit access to these features as a means of protecting our customers from those who abuse Steam for purposes such as spamming and phishing.
Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do. One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam.”
The idea of pulling the rug out from under the scammers is compelling, but I can’t help but wonder how many real gamers this is going to impact. How many people out there have never spent any money on their account? There’s plenty of games that are available for free on Steam. Also, many people don’t have the spare money, or a way to pay for digital games (ie: Young gamers). Not being able to add friends will likely diminish their enjoyment, at least to some extent.
Then there’s situations where parents may allow their kids to have Steam accounts, but they don’t put their payment information into that account. Instead, they own their own account and gift the games they buy for their kids. This is actually how we manage our Baselan accounts. Purchases are made by someone else, and games gifted to the Baselan accounts. This way we don’t have to associate a credit card, or have spare credit left over from a Steam card.
The idea on paper sounds good, but I fear this may not be the best approach. What do you think? Did Valve make the right call here? Will this affect you or anyone you know?