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

valve limits new steam accounts discovery update
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.

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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.

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.

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Valve will stop regulating Steam, save for illegal content, straight up trolling
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Valve Software said it will stop regulating Steam to some extent. Valve is giving itself enough room to purge anything it deems as illegal and "straight up trolling," thus freeing up time previously locked down to policing content to develop tools for filtering content on the customer end.  
"We already have some tools, but they're too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough," Valve said. "We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you're not interested in. So if you don't want to see anime games on your Store, you'll be able to make that choice." 
The move stems from discussions around how the Steam staff determines what flies and what dies during product submissions. Accusations stem from possible influence from outside interest groups, influence from payment processors, or an automated system that rejects submissions base on specific traits. That's not the case, Valve says, but the complaints have pushed the staff to reconsider how they tackle product approvals. 
That is where a new filtering system could come into play. Instead of a Steam Store that rejects games with adult or violent content, a better time-saving approach would be to offer a platform that serves an entire range of controversial topics. Even more, the staff wouldn't be required to determine what actually defines a game and whether the product reached a level of quality that qualifies it for a commercial release. 
"Even when we pick a single country or state, the legal definitions around these topics can be too broad or vague to allow us to avoid making subjective and interpretive decisions," Valve said. "The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad." 
The decision about what is and isn't allowed on Steam is a controversial subject in the community as well as within Valve itself. Not everyone inside Valve agrees with the current policing of titles, thus the "really mad" statement extends to employees, their families, their friends, and their communities. To please the masses, Steam is going back to its roots: Freedom of choice. 
That foundation means customers should have the freedom to purchase and play whatever game they want. Developers should have the freedom to create and sell anything that doesn't break local laws. Moreover, Valve shouldn't be making choices for the gamer and developer, but instead create tools for making choices and feeling comfortable with Steam. 
Ultimately, customers will see games they absolutely hate along with those they believe are a perfect fit for Steam. The store will no longer reflect Valve's values, save for the belief that everyone has the right to purchase and sell any game no matter the (legal) content. 
"In the short term, we won't be making significant changes to what's arriving on Steam until we've finished some of the tools we've described," Valve said. 

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The annual Steam Summer Sale is a great way to get a handful of PC games at a fraction of their normal price, and it appears we now know when you'll be have to get your wallet out. According to Steam Database, the sale will begin on June 21.

The same date was leaked on the Steam Reddit page on May 8, which also listed an end date of July 5 for the sale. If true, this would be almost identical to 2017, when the sale ran from June 22 until July 5.

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"My email account has sent out 3 spam emails in the past hour to a list of about 10 addresses that I don’t recongnize[sic]," reads a post on the Google help forums. "I changed my password immediately after the first one, but then it happened again 2 more times. The subject of the emails is weight loss and growth supplements for men advertisements. I have reported them as spam. Please help, what else can I do to ensure my account isn’t compromised??"

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