Here’s how to give a Steam game as a gift

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

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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.

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, however, 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, send them here 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 the other’s username and invite the other 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

how to gift games on steam add 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’

how to gift games on steam purchase as

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

how to gift games on steam schedule delivery

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

how to gift games on steam note

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 leftover game on Steam

Valve recently changed Steam’s gifting policy in order to crack down on key resellers or people circumventing regional price differences such that 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. Select ‘Manage Gifts and Guest Passes…’ from the Games drop-down menu in the Steam client

how to gift games on steam old gifts

2. Select the game you want to give, click ‘Send gift…’ and choose your recipient

how to gift games on steam email or friend

At least for the time being, it is still possible to give older game codes to anyone with an e-mail address, or directly through Steam to someone on your friends’ list as in the current method. Once you have input the recipient through either method, press Next and proceed from step 5 above.

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