Valve openly addresses Steam users, explaining why they’re aggressively employing new methods to prevent the theft of virtual items and Steam accounts.
One of the worst feelings a gamer can have is discovering that their account on a digital distribution service has been hacked, and Steam users are some of the hardest hit. According to Valve, 77,000 of Steam accounts get hijacked every single month.
In a news bulletin posted on Steam, Valve explains that while their newest attempts to counteract hackers may be irritating to some users, they’ve been employed for a reason. Valve explains that they’ve always tried to err in favor of the users, by restoring the accounts and items of users that have been targeted by hackers, while also allowing legitimate buyers to keep stolen items that were sold to them. Unfortunately, this resolution has some downfalls, as duplicating high-value items severely impacts the trading economy on Steam.
While enforcing the use of the Steam mobile app, two-step authentication, and lengthy trade delays undoubtedly irritate many legitimate users, Valve points out that even the savviest users need the extra protection. Valve points out that it’s not just new users getting ripped off by thieves:
“We see around 77,000 accounts hijacked and pillaged each month. These are not new or naïve users; these are professional CS:GO players, reddit contributors, item traders, etc. Users can be targeted randomly as part of a larger group or even individually. Hackers can wait months for a payoff, all the while relentlessly attempting to gain access. It’s a losing battle to protect your items against someone who steals them for a living.”
Judging by what Valve has to say, it seems that long-time gamers with more to lose may be at an even higher risk than newer players that don’t have much of value in their accounts. While it can be a pain for users to have to go through so many steps to complete a trade, it should help to reduce the amount of accounts that are stolen each month. Considering that Steam’s support system has a poor reputation with long wait times, dealing with extra steps to complete a trade is probably preferable to having to go through a drawn-out attempt at restoring an account with Steam.
More and more AAA titles are requiring PC gamers to use Steam just to install games, like Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V. Although not every game on Steam has tradeable items that can be stolen, it’s better for Valve to try and cover all their bases. Stolen accounts aren’t just at risk of losing the items they possess, as the billing information can also be stolen and used to make purchases, taking money right out of the pocket of the gamer.
Controversy has surrounded Steam before, like when they tried to partner with Bethesda to create a paid mod system. However, it’s ultimately up to gamers and Valve alike to protect gamers’ accounts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like hackers will give up breaking into accounts any time soon, so Valve may implement even more restrictions on trading in the future.