If you’re under the age of 13, you better get off Steam.
Developer Valve has quietly updated its Steam Subscriber Agreement mandating that users be 13 years old before signing up.
Steam is Valve’s online video game distribution platform. It is a way for publishers and independent developers to sell PC games online via digital download. Last year the company announced that it had more than 125 million active users with an 8.9-million concurrent peak. Steam, unequivocally, has the largest community of PC gamers under its umbrella.
Now it seems Steam is trying to put up a barrier for people who may be too young for the platform. Thanks to internet archives, comparisons can be made comparing the agreement before and after. Before, the agreement stated: “you become a subscriber of Steam (“Subscriber”) by completing the registration of a Steam user account. This Agreement takes effect as soon as you indicate your acceptance of these terms.” Now it has an added clause stating, “you may not become a subscriber if you are under the age of 13. Steam is not intended for children under 13 and Valve will not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13.”
There is speculation why Valve abruptly added the new clause to its Steam Subscriber Agreement. The company could be trying to avoid a regulatory fine. Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), it “imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age.” Recently, several of toy companies were fined for tracking online activity for children under the age of 13 online.