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As an owner of several unusual Team Fortress 2 hats (I’m proud of virtual currency, I know), I have been overloaded at times with requests from new steam accounts who just want to ask me for my precious unusual Flamboyant Flamenco in exchange for real world money. Of course, those are usually scams, but it’s gotten worse and worse as of late. With the latest restrictions placed by Steam, those requests may drop like flies.

Don't worry good friend, you're still safe with me.

Don’t worry good friend, you’re still safe with me.

First noticed over at Gamasutra, new limitations have been added onto new Steam accounts, and certain criteria must be satisfied before all steam functionality is available to the user. You can read the full description of limited accounts and what they do here. The short version is that you have to spend $5 dollars of some form, whether it be a steam gift, a game, or add money to your Steam Wallet before you have full access to the list of features available. These features include friend requests, voting on Greenlight, and using the browser and mobile chat. Needless to say, Valve has taken steps in order to stop some of the possible abuses of their systems over the last several years, but this is one of the biggest steps they’ve taken to date.

There are some interesting elements though that arise from some of the ways that you can’t activate an account, such as activating retail purchases (in store bought items) and the number of hours in free to play games. Also note that games gifted through Steam from a friend will also not activate the account as well: it’s strictly wanting you to activate something with your own wallet. Even the possibility of earning trading cards and selling them will not work as well, as you have no ability to list items on the Steam Market.  It looks like Valve thought ahead a bit, as it’s about the total purchase amount on your account, so charge backs or declined cards after the fact will re-disable the account. Please note, if it’s refunded through the steam wallet however, then you’re still good.

A fine example of an attempt to get Steam user information.

A fine example of an attempt to get Steam user information.  Source: emwarz from http://shittyscammers.tumblr.com

With steam scam stories being so rampant over the year, and seeing people get hit by them with false links and a silver tongue, it seems Valve has had enough of the abuse of their system. It also can counter against the possible other abuses of the system, such as creating new accounts just to up-vote a project on Greenlight.

Do you think Valve went one step too far in their new policies, or did they hit the right level of user protection and accessibility? Do you believe that scammers will be willing to pay 5 dollars per account to attempt to extort assets from users, or will Steam see a significant drop off in these types of activities? And most importantly, if you’re a TF2 player, which unusual hat do you have that you are breathing a sigh of relief for due to the ridiculous amount of requests you get?


Shaun Joy

Staff Writer

YouTuber Dragnix who plays way too many games, and has a degree in Software Engineering. A Focus on disclosure on Youtubers, and gaming coverage in general.



  • If only they’d give people some new privacy settings as well. I’m sick and tired of being added by level 1/private profile accounts with random names and pictures. Having to block so many people is seriously annoying.

  • Cerxi

    It’s the same problem twitter has, with the same solution; just give us the option to automatically refuse requests from brand new/unused accounts!

  • I was hit by this a few weeks ago when I gifted a friend Tabletop Simulator. He never had a Steam account before, and he could neither add me to friends nor could I add him. I sent him the gift via e-mail, he activated it, and 2 minutes later we were able to see each other.

    It’s a bit frustrating but you can still send gifts through e-mail and ultimately it puts a stop to a lot of bots and scammers so I’m quite happy with this change.

  • If I understand the article correctly, they changed that. Before, you just had to have 1 non-F2P game in your account to unlock the features.

    You could get a bundle key, activate a retail copy, get a gift or anything.

    Now those won’t work anymore, apparently, and your account specifically has to drop money on Steam in one way or another.

    But yeah, I agree, it was never much of a problem. Now, though, it gets more problematic, especially when making an account for one’s kid or the like – somebody who doesn’t have free access to payment methods, maybe due to being underage and Steam Wallet cards not being sold in their country. Before, gifting them a key you had left over, or a retail game for christmas, would have sufficed.

  • And I’ll never understand why the hell it seems anathema to companies like Valve and Twitter to implement such simple privacy settings. In fact, Steam lost some privacy settings last year!
    It seems like implementing those things would defeat a LOT of stupid coming from the “social” part of social media…

  • Shaun Joy

    You know, this is a reasonable question, cause it seems like a reasonable use case and should be easy enough to program via a filter or specific option from a programming level. It actually makes me want to research what would be the down side of it.

  • PossiblyCthulhu

    The problem with that is, and think about yourself way back when, starting a new account – if you have no Steam friends and others automatically block brand new accounts, how exactly are you supposed to create a list of friends? The best way would be to block new accounts unless they’ve played alongside you. However given the many ways that PC games implement multiplayer that becomes more than a little trivial.

    It’s difficult to balance ease of use and appropriate automated blocking mechanisms

  • Cerxi

    You create a list of friends by playing games, posting on forums, and meeting people who want to add you. You could accept requests, but you could not send them. It’s not that difficult.

  • thegreygamer

    I seem to get an ‘invite’ from an account every day atm. So a setting allowing me to auto-block those would be great.

  • Nope Naw

    I don’t personally mind this change. It’s not gonna affect me. I already have hundreds of games on Steam. But I can see how it can potentially screw over new users. It’s always like that.

    Publisher introduces heavy DRM and the people who actually spend the money take the whip. Here, Steam wants to combat phishers by locking down Steam for new users, and new users that actually behave take the whip.

    I honestly thought the two-step verification was a good enough step. This seems slightly unnecessary when putting them side by side.

  • Nope Naw

    What about when two completely new users, unable to send requests, want to be friends?

  • I got at least 3 today already, and it isn’t even noon here. I really wish Valve would get off their butts and actually work on useful features rather than needless clutter that only a tiny fraction of people will ever use.

  • Cerxi

    I never said “new users should be unable to send requests”, I said “the option to automatically refuse requests from new users”. If two new users want to add each other, they only have to *not use that option*.

  • Nope Naw

    “You could accept requests, but you could not send them”