The way Steam trading works has been updated today to help fight against hackers. As Valve put it, the problem had gotten so bad because so many Steam accounts are now worth real money just in passively-generated trading cards and items from Dota 2, CSGO and TF2. It was worth it for hackers to target any and everyone they could in the hope that one of them would have a motherlode, or just enough to make a day’s wage. They’re hoping to have fixed that with today’s changes.
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The full post goes into lengthy detail as to the hows, whys and wherefores of the changes, but here’s where Valve have ended up:
- Anyone losing items in a trade will need to have a Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator enabled on their account for at least 7 days and have trade confirmations turned on. Otherwise, items will be held by Steam for up to 3 days before delivery.
- If you’ve been friends for at least 1 year, items will be held by Steam for up to 1 day before delivery.
- Accounts with a Mobile Authenticator enabled for at least 7 days are no longer restricted from trading or using the Market when using a new device since trades on the new device will be protected by the Mobile Authenticator.
Their explanation for this series of changes is they don’t want to remove the system entirely, but it needs safeguards to stop the rampant theft of items. They can’t allow it to continue because duplicating the items to return them is devaluing rarer stock, a problem that could get out of hand. They appreciate that not everyone will have access to a mobile phone capable of running the authenticator, but believe that the trade-off is worth it for the greater health of the community.
Hopefully not too many innocent users get caught in the crossfire. For the trading communities it should be a great boon, making moving in those 3rd party circles a little safer. I rarely use the trading system – and it’s almost always slow and buggy when I do, natch – but will probably get the authenticator just so it’s no hassle if I ever want to gift trading cards or items to friends. The wait time already exists on items bought from the marketplace, so it’s a tested method of preventing abuse.