Valve will soon introduce yet more restrictions on what items you can trade in an effort to chase dirty, rotten cheaters out of their digital shop, according to a new entry on its support pages. You will no longer be able to add certain multiplayer games to your inventory for gifting or trading later, it says. This applies to over 400 hundred games on Steam, including Ark: Survival Evolved, DayZ, Garry's Mod and many others. If you want to gift any of these, you have to do it there and then. It's all part of a crackdown on cheaters who would stockpile games and gift them to their own clone accounts whenever they got banned, using the loophole to continue playing. But wait, there's more.
Valve have also introduced a kind of gifting ban, albeit one that is specific to individual games.
"If you directly gift a game to someone who gets permanently banned," they say, "you won't be able to gift that game again."
The post explains the whole thing.
"When a user is caught cheating, their Steam account is banned from playing multi-player on secured servers. This creates an incentive for people who cheat to stockpile copies of games on one account and to gift them to low value accounts where they can continue cheating. In response to this problem, Steam no longer allows users to purchase copies of VAC or Game Ban enabled games to their inventory. Additionally, if an account has directly gifted a game to other players who have been VAC or permanently Game Banned, then that account will lose the ability to gift that game."
For instance, if you gift a copy of Ark: Survival Evolved to your mate and they get banned for cheating because they are a scoundrel without honour or humility, you won't be able to gift that particular game again, to anyone. Your friend has sullied your reputation. The knave.
The restrictions haven't been fully enacted yet. We just successfully bought a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops III and added it to our inventory without a problem (apart from the problem of now owning it). But judging by the support page, it looks like the restrictions will be rolled out soon.
The measure against stockpiling games in your inventory applies only to games that have the Valve Anti-Cheat system enabled (VAC), and to games by developers which have an agreement with Valve to slap permabans on players found to be using dirty tricks. These 'Game Bans' are slightly different from a ban through VAC and put a literal mark on your Steam profile. This is to let you know you've been caught red-handed, but also to let everyone else know you are pondlife.
This is not the first time Valve have increased security measures. They previously introduced "hold periods" for items and trading cards being put on sale, encouraging users to activate a two-step verification system with their mobile phones.
"We've taken these steps to ensure the integrity of the multi-player experience for those participating in online gaming communities," said Valve. "We understand that the restrictions on buying to inventory may be inconvenient for some legitimate users, but we believe that these steps will reduce the number of cheaters you'll play against. And that's important in having an online gaming experience that's fair and enjoyable for everyone."
What does everyone think? It looks to me like the method is focused enough to work, and it's hard to imagine an innocent reason anyone would stockpile a dozen copies of Gas Guzzlers Extreme. What's more is that Valve appear to have a scheduling feature (see above) for gifting games by email, which makes it easier for folks who genuinely want to gift but want it to arrive at a later date. That's something I don't remember seeing before but maybe I am just out of touch. The other restrictions may affect those close to known cheatbags, however. What do you think? Do you have a dodgy friend you'll be avoiding gifting to from now on?