One of the best things about games is how they can bring people together. In this age of digital distribution, it’s easier than ever to give games as gifts to friends and family anywhere in the world. Steam, Valve‘s PC game distribution platform, has a stranglehold on how PC games are bought and sold: It’s almost certainly the easiest way to give someone the game of your choice. Here’s a quick guide on how to give someone a game through Steam.
Before we begin, it’s worth pointing out that Valve recently changed its policy on Steam gifts. It is no longer possible to hold onto extra codes for handing out at your leisure, nor can you give games to people who do not have a Steam account. Any leftover codes you still might have kicking around from the previous system are still there, and we’ll show you how to gift those at the end, but going forward, all gifts will require the following procedure. Cryptocurrency fanatics will also have to get back on the grid for the time being, since Valve stopped accepting bitcoin as payment due to the upstart currency’s volatility.
If you’re unsure of a specific game to give as a gift, you can purchase a Steam Wallet code instead. That way the recipient can decide. We go over that process at the end of this guide.
How to gift a new game on Steam
Previously, it was possible to send a game to anyone with an e-mail address, and the message would include instructions on how to set up a Steam account and download their new purchase. Now, you can only gift new games to people that already have Steam accounts and are on your friends’ list.
1. Make sure your friend has a Steam account
If you want to buy someone a game who does not have a Steam account, they’ll have to set up a new account and download the Steam client.
Once they are set up, you should go to the Friends drop-down menu, select “Add a Friend,” search for their username and invite them to become your friend. Once they accept your request, you can send them a game.
2. Find the game you want to buy and add it to your cart
Locate the game you want to give in the Steam store, either directly in the client or through the web portal, and select “Add to Cart.” If you already own the game in question on your own account, there will be a note just above the buy option that says “Buy this game as a gift for a friend.”
3. Select ‘Purchase as a gift’
If you already own the game, “Purchase for myself” will be faded and unresponsive, since you cannot own multiple copies of the same game anymore.
4. Choose your recipient
Select the recipient from your list of friends. You can choose to schedule the delivery at a later time and date, if you want to set it up to arrive on a delay and be a surprise for a particular occasion.
5. Fill out the customized message
Personalize your gift by filling in your friend’s name and writing a message. This can be anything from a simple happy birthday or happy holidays to a heartfelt letter or funny message.
6. Complete the purchase
After personalizing your gift with a note, press “Continue” and you will proceed to the regular purchase screen, where you can proceed as you would to buy a game for yourself. Then pat yourself on the back, because you’re done! What a good friend you are, giving the gift of gaming.
How to gift a duplicate game on Steam
Valve recently changed Steam’s gifting policy in order to crack down on key resellers and people circumventing regional price differences so you can no longer purchase and hold onto game codes for an indefinite period. Any residual codes you may still have are still around, however, and can still be given out as before.
1. Under the Games tab in the Steam client, select “Manage Gifts and Guest Passes”
You will only find this option when using the Steam client software so make sure to have that downloaded before looking for this.
2. Select the duplicate game you want to gift
If you have duplicate games that you can gift, they will appear in the grid. Select the game, then navigate to the right and click on the button that reads “Send gift…”
On the next page, you can either gift the game using the recipient’s e-mail address or send it to them directly through Steam but they must be on your friends’ list.
Once you have input the recipient through either method, press Next and proceed from step 5 above.
Give a Steam Wallet code
Alternatively, you can purchase a Steam Wallet code as a gift. To do so, you must be friends with the recipient on Steam for at least three days. Gift codes can be purchased in $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100. Simply choose the value of your gift, pick a recipient from your friend list, and complete your purchase. The code will automatically be sent to your friend.
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