Valve has implemented a new policy which will limit the accounts of some Steam users. Steam gaming regulars won't be affected because the new 'Limited User Account' policy won't affect anyone who has spent more than US$5 (or equivalent) on the platform. The move aims to protect Steam users from some registered customers who only use Steam for directing spam and phishing type communications.
In a post explaining the thinking behind the $5 limited account policy Steam Support wrote "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." Pondering the differences between legitimate and dodgy Steam members Valve came to the realisation that "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."
While we don't expect any HEXUS users who are also Steam gamers to have such a minimal investment in the platform (considering all those irresistible sales, including Humble Bundles), let's look at the restrictions put on an account with less than $5 invested.
Limited users cannot:
- Send friend invites
- Open group chat
- Vote on Greenlight, Steam Reviews and Workshop items
- Participate in the Steam Market
- Post frequently in the Steam Discussions
- Gain Steam Profile Levels (Locked to level 0) and Trading Cards
- Submit content on the Steam Workshop
- Post in an item's Steam Workshop Discussions
- Access the Steam Web API
- Use browser and mobile chat
Valve has thought about possible 'loopholes' so has blocked the following alternative 'sideways' access methods to the above listed Steam platform features:
- Activating a retail game on Steam
- Playing free demos
- Adding a non-Steam game as a shortcut
- Adding/playing promotional trials like Free Weekends
- Free to Play games (Examples: Alien Swarm, free versions of Portal and Team Fortress 2)
- Activating promotional CD Keys from hardware or graphic card manufacturers
- Games received as gifts or trades.
This isn't the only security-concious feature Valve has implemented in Steam recently. Just ahead of the weekend it opened up a beta Mobile Authenticator System. If you are interested in and get selected for the beta you will be able to use your Android or iOS smartphone as part of a two-factor authentication system to access your account.