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Valve looks to combat scammers with new Steam account feature

Valve has added a new feature to Steam accounts, hopefully removing most of the bots and phishing scams currently plaguing the PC gaming service.

It locks accounts that have spent under £5 in a ‘Limited Access’ mode, where they cannot use most of the features available on normal Steam accounts. Since most of the bot accounts do not spend a penny, this change has hopefully removed most of them.

Even for active phishing accounts set up by humans, it will become harder to scam people unless the scammer buys games first. Once Valve is alerted that someone is a scammer, they can get their account shut down, meaning it is less likely scammers will use Steam.

In Limited Access, Steam users will not have access to:

  • Sending friend invites
  • Opening group chat
  • Voting on Greenlight, Steam Reviews and Workshop items
  • Participating in the Steam Market
  • Posting frequently in the Discussions
  • Gaining Profile Levels (Locked to level 0) and Trading Cards
  • Submitting content on the Steam Workshop
  • Posting in an item's Workshop Discussions
  • Accessing the Web API
  • Using browser and mobile chat

That is quite a hefty amount of things put on hold, meaning spam bots voting for Greenlight projects will be incapable of making instant new accounts to make hundreds of votes.

Valve offers a lot of ways to lift Limited Access, including simply buying a game on Steam. Users can also download a video game, by a Steam gift or redeem a Steam card. It will not allow demos, betas or CD ROM codes as valid forms of purchase, meaning users need to buy something inside Steam’s walled garden.

Steam has often been the target of scammers with 60 million active users, making it the most popular platform for gaming. The only other platform of that size is Riot Games’ League of Legends, but that is split between different regions vastly limiting the scope, and Riot has added its own barriers to block scammers from adding random people.