Game publisher and continued Half Life 3 delayer Valve has announced new policies designed to cut down on scams on its Steam digital distribution platform, introducing a spending limit on chat usage.
Announced by the company in a support post
, the new system adds a 'limited user account' status level to anyone who has spent less than $5 or equivalent in local currency on the Steam storefront. These users, Valve explains, will be unable to access features 'including but not limited to
:' sending friend invitations, opening group chat, voting in the Greenlight, Steam Reviews or Workshop sections of the service, using the Steam Market, 'posting frequently
' to the Steam Discussions forum, unlocking Trading Cards or gaining Steam Profile Levels, submitting content to the Steam Workshop or posting in a Workshop item's discussion thread, using the Steam Web API, and using browser- or mobile-based chat functionality.
To summarise: users who have not spent $5 or more directly on the Steam store are being sent to Coventry, and will be unable to communicate with other users until they cough up some cash.
'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,
' Valve claimed in its explanation for the new rules. '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.
The new rules go into effect immediately, and will affect users whose total spend is under $5 or local equivalent - including those who have spent more than $5 but had a refund or chargeback bring the total back under $5. Only direct expenditure is enough to leave the limited user status, too: receiving games as Steam gifts or via Steam Trading or adding keys purchased elsewhere to Steam will not count towards the total.