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Steam cracks down on spammers, restricting new accounts until users pay up

If you’re a fairly regular Steam user, there’s a good chance that you’ve been finding an increasing amount of friend invites and trade offers from people you’ve never heard of. Valve Software is aware of this recent influx of spammers, and is taking big steps toward fixing the problem.

Until now, all it took to sign up for a Steam account was a name and an email address. When the service first launched, it was essentially a given that a new user would make some sort of purchase, but as Steam started adding free-to-play games like the massively popular Dota 2, the amount of accounts that had never spent a dime grew significantly.

While it is still entirely possible to use Steam without spending any money, those accounts are now limited in what they can actually do. “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,” the Steam page announcing the new system reads.

Related: Steam gets more secure as Valve adds two-factor authentication to Android, iOS apps

From now on, there will be two classes of Steam accounts: “regular” accounts that have made purchases of $5 or more, and “limited” accounts. These limited accounts are prevented from sending friend invites, opening group chat, voting on Greenlight games or leaving reviews, participating in the Steam Market, and more.

There are a few ways to lift these restrictions. Spending $5 USD or more on game purchases, adding that amount to your Steam Wallet, purchasing a Steam gift of that amount, or adding a Steam Wallet card to your account will all remove the restriction. Activating a retail game, playing free demos, or playing a free-to-play game will not remove the restriction.

“If the Steam store isn’t in USD, we will track the purchase amount in USD by converting each purchase total made on Steam using daily exchange rates,” the update reads.

While this will prove to be a minor headache for some players of free-to-play games, those who fear opening the Steam client due to the amount of bogus friend requests they’re seeing will likely welcome the change. For the full list of restrictions and requirements, see the Steam support page on Limited User Accounts.