Steam introduces Limited User Accounts: what you need to know

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 20, 2015
Updated • Feb 8, 2016

It is easy enough to create a Steam account. Just visit the official website to create an account, verify your email address and you are in. What's left then is to download the Steam client for your system and sign in using it.

Since money is involved on Steam, for instance in form of Steam Wallets but also virtual currency in form of in-game items, phishing and account hacking is quite common as well.

Since there is no real verification of accounts initially, other than confirming an email address, malicious users were not really restricted when it came to the creation of accounts, sending out friend requests and to carry out attacks.

This changes, hopes Valve Software, with the introduction of Limited User Accounts on Steam. All new accounts on Steam are limited by default until certain requirements are met.


steam limited user accounts

To unlock the full potential on Steam and all features provided by the service, new users need to make one or multiple purchases that exceed $5.00 USD within the Steam Store.

This includes adding those funds to the Steam Wallet, adding a Steam Wallet card to the account, making purchases that are equal to $5 USD or exceed the amount, or purchasing Steam Gift cards.

Valve notes that other currencies are converted automatically to USD using daily exchange rates.


The following limitations apply to all limited user accounts on Steam:

  1. Messaging related: sending friend invites, opening group chats, using browser or mobile chat.
  2. Posting related: no posting in the Steam Discussions or Steam Workshop Discussions, submitting content to the Steam Workshop or voting on Steam.
  3. Steam Market participation.
  4. Gaining Steam levels or trading cards.
  5. Accessing the Steam Web API.

The limitation prevents users from contacting other Steam users and posting to the discussion forums.

Since it is not possible to use the Steam Market, only direct purchases in the Steam Store count towards the $5 USD threshold.

The core idea behind the limitations is to prevent the quick generation of lots of fake accounts on Steam for use in phishing attacks and other malicious activities on the network.

Certain activities won't remove account limitations on Steam. For instance, activating a retail game, regardless of the price you paid for it, won't.

Refunds or disputes that reduce the money spend on Steam below $5 have the consequence that accounts in question will be limited once again.

Closing Words

It is unclear right now how effective the new account limitation feature will be. It should be clear that the new feature won't eliminate spam and malicious users on Steam from one day to the other but it is likely that it will have a positive effect on that number.

It is likely that it will reduce the number of spammers significantly. For malicious users on the other hand, it is a matter of calculation. Do they earn more than $5 on average per Steam account they create? If the answer is yes, it might not impact malicious activities on Steam by much, if at all.

It is near certain however that link spam and other mass-spam on Steam will see a reduction after the new protective measures go live.

Steam introduces Limited User Accounts: what you need to know
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Steam introduces Limited User Accounts: what you need to know
Valve Software just announced the introduction of limited user accounts on Steam. New user accounts are limited until at least $5 are spend in the official store.
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  1. nizar monza said on September 19, 2017 at 8:07 am

    if my steam account limited, can i received a gift from other account

  2. LOST HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF GME said on July 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    It’s annoying how I had to create a whole new account because some Russian arsehole hijacked my account and Steam Support (SS) was not willing to help me get it back (despite the fact that I gave them all necessary information about that account that the hijacker certainly couldn’t have known). I had spent nearly $34.00 on my old account, lost all that and now my new account is limited, I’m completely isolated from my Steam friends, both old and new (can’t add ’em because of these limitations). In addition to all those great games and friends, I lost all my badges, screenshots, reviews and items. ;_; And Steam punishes me for THAT. I’m kind of pissed off.

  3. Andy said on September 17, 2016 at 10:52 am

    This is a load of barnacles, why should your account be limited? If you’ve never purchased anything that requires steam to activate then fair enough, but still restricting users who have retail bought items is just frustrating.

  4. are you mad? said on June 30, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    me too have this problem But once was true for a few hours and could chat and enjoy !! but it just was for a few hours!! so i fucking steam and valve !

  5. Unknown said on April 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    It’s 20$ God damn bucks in my country,i’m not paying for this.

  6. nene said on April 21, 2016 at 7:40 am

    cmon can disable evrything like vote, join comunity etc. but “add friend” cmon. u kidding me. just unlock adding friends. only that. and ill pray to make steam 100% more richer!

  7. Anonymous said on February 28, 2016 at 7:10 am

    “reduce the number of spammers” is just another reason. The main reason is they want to bring more money to their wallet…

  8. Anonymous said on February 23, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I didn’t like steam before, now I simply hate them. I don’t want to go through them to play my favorite games and now I have too. And if I want to use them to their full potential, I have to pay directly to steam ???
    Well, I won’t. Better find some other games than give them a cent for nothing.

  9. rogelio said on February 14, 2016 at 3:57 am

    hey steam there are more addictive players from philippines please exclude them from a limited user when they reach level 50..u know philppines is a poor country please please understand :D

  10. FUCKSTEAM said on February 12, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Steam is a piece of shit guys. I purchased Civ V through them for 49.99 and my account is still locked. Cant even enjoy a gifted game because I cant add friends still. The email “assistance” is a shit as well. These fuckers copy pasted some bullshit about their 5$ anti-scam shit that can be found anywhere. No personalized assistance. No response back in over a day. Complete shit. And no phone number to reach them at, probably because they know they’re shit and don’t want to hear it over the phone.

  11. Night Owl said on February 7, 2016 at 2:53 am

    can someone explain me more about the steps to remove the restriction ? my problem is like this .i want to use the community market. but im a restricted user. i already have 30 myr in my account that should be 7 us dollar . so it should be enough to remove the 5 dollar restriction like it said above right ? so should i wait for steam support to spot my problem and remove the restriction or i should use my 30 myr to buy stuff from steam store thats 5 dollars worth then the restriction will be remove ?

  12. Joby said on December 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I created new account in steam for dota2. but its showing can I fix this to non limited a/c..
    I’m new in steam

  13. Gayle said on December 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I bought civ v in a store (I ALWAYS buy my games) and when I installed it steam was installed. Fine! But Steam tells me I am not an authorized user – they appear to want me to spend another 5$ in order to add a friend! Is there anyway I can validate my legitimate purchase so I can add a friend on Steam? Seems to be unfair and misrepresentation to have to spend another $5 to play multiplayer!!!!

  14. Groom said on June 17, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I currently have the Limited account.
    This 5$ must-pay is not yet clear to me: I have purchased a DVD game in a store that I had to activate and use on Steam, it costed a lot more than 5$. Is this a so-called retail version? I ask this because I CAN post in that game section on Steam, but NOT elsewhere. I wanted to post an important and relevant question about another game (in the appropriate game section on Steam), but I COULD’T post.

    So what? Where do I have to buy for 5$ in order to post question for a game I don’t own yet ? Not clear to me. Thanks very much to answer!


  15. Nera said on May 6, 2015 at 6:41 am

    $5 no way! Let there programmers create program/solutions to eliminate spammers and suspicious users.

  16. z_o_m_33 said on May 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    THIS IS SO BULLSHIT UPDATE I HAVE 4 YEARS ON STEAM 50 LVS AND USE MONEY EVRY WEEKi gat Limited User Accounts WTF i want the new dota item but i dont wanna use 5 dolers first then i dont have money to get it when i sell a item to get it if vaule dont fix this soon at me and its wekkend il contact my laywer AGIAN

    1. rizki said on November 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      so sad bro ;) , i know what r u feel

  17. Somber said on April 26, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    5$? Pffft, Spammers/scammers/phishers pay more than that to spam and phish on mmo’s.
    This is simply a ploy to screw those whom are on steam for the f2p games that haven’t purchased anything yet
    or bought bundles elsewhere and steam wants a cut.

  18. Blue said on April 21, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    This in no way impedes hackers, phishers and bots. They will find a way around it. They always do, which is why the predecessor (Game Guard) didn’t work because it can easily be patched. So now the genuine players are being punished along with the hackers, phishers and bot creators/users.

  19. Maou said on April 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Now they are charging a fee to use Steam?
    What’s next? Steam Premium accounts?. :)

    I think the people who activate the first Steam game using a retail copy, should not be penalized by Valve’s incompetence.

    1. Maelish said on April 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      There is an entire internet out there to chat with. If Value wants to control their network the way they want, it is their network to do so. This isn’t a silly notion, it’s smart for them to do it.

  20. dwarf_t0ssr said on April 21, 2015 at 2:36 am

    I am excited for the change, and honestly, don’t think a minimum of 10 dollars spent would adversely affect most legit users. On slashdot, someone brought up a good point regarding the invention of the postage stamp curbing much of the abuse of the postal system.

  21. Anonymouse said on April 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Years over-due, they easily could have just added a CAPTCHA when making accounts. Pretty brainless blocking accounts with retail activated games too. You’re forced to use Steam when buying a game, yet can’t even use the endless ‘stuff’ installed.

  22. Gabriel said on April 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Was already boring block these bot. Steam finally did something.

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