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It’s not monthly and it’s not actually a charge – you just need a qualifying purchase – are you listening, Sony/Microsoft?

In an attempt to protect Steam users from those who abuse the platform for purposes of spamming and phishing, earlier this week Valve has introduced a set of rules that establish a new account status, called the Limited User Account.

Limited users are prevented from accessing several features, including but not limited to:

  • Sending friend invites.
  • Opening group chat.
  • Voting on Greenlight, Steam Reviews and Workshop items.
  • Participating in the Steam Market.
  • Posting frequently in the Steam Discussions.
  • Gaining Steam Profile Levels (Locked to level 0) and Trading Cards.
  • Submitting content on the Steam Workshop.
  • Posting in an item’s Steam Workshop Discussions.
  • Accessing the Steam Web API.
  • Using browser and mobile chat.

Lifting these restrictions requires users to spend at least $5.00 USD within the Steam store. Some examples of purchases that grant access to these features include:

  • Adding the equivalent of $5 USD or more to your Steam Wallet.
  • Purchasing game(s) that are equal to $5 USD or more from the Steam store.
  • Adding a Steam Wallet card to your Steam account.
  • Purchasing a Steam gift that is equal to $5 USD or more from the Steam store (Receiving a Steam gift from a friend doesn’t count).

However, the following transactions don’t qualify for accessing the bevy of Steam features:

  • Activating a retail game on Steam.
  • Playing free demos.
  • Adding a non-Steam game as a shortcut.
  • Adding/playing promotional trials like Free Weekends.
  • Free to Play games (Examples: Alien Swarm, free versions of Portal and Team Fortress 2).
  • Activating promotional CD Keys from hardware or graphic card manufacturers.

There is only likely to have been a very small subset of users (who hadn’t yet made a purchase) caught out by this change, but they might feel a little aggrieved, especially as the social features are basically the only “free” aspect of Sony and Microsoft’s online offerings. In reality though it’s not a big change and the chances are, if you spent hundreds (or thousands) on a gaming PC, it won’t be long before you spend five bucks in Valve’s online store buying something to actually play on it. And imagine how pleased everybody would be if Sony and Microsoft took a leaf out of Valve’s book, and started knocking off the cost of monthly subscriptions based on qualifying store purchases…

The full specifications of this new change and a brief FAQ on the subject from Valve support can be found in this knowledge-base article.

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