Steam Updates Item Trading Policy To Curb Gambling Issues

For several years now, Valve has used OpenID API in order to operate a makeshift in-game economy for some content hosted on Steam. These systems of in-game trade have flourished over time, but recently they have also fallen prey to third-party sites attempting to use these economic systems for gambling and real-world financial gain. Valve is now taking the first steps in an attempt to end these practices.

Valve's Eric Johson penned a statement about the issue. It reads in part:

In 2011, we added a feature to Steam that enabled users to trade in-game items as a way to make it easier for people to get the items they wanted in games featuring in-game economies.Since then a number of gambling sites started leveraging the Steam trading system, and there's been some false assumptions about our involvement with these sites. We'd like to clarify that we have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency.

The in-game economies created by Valve are designed to be contained entirely inside of the game in question, and there is currently no system in place for converting in-game items into real-world currency. As the items can be traded from one player to another, however, in-game items quickly began to be bought and sold online.

Buying and selling in-game items wasn’t an inherent issue to begin with, but other sites soon started allowing players to place bets using in-game items essentially as currency. In addition to the obvious issues there, it's possible for children under the age of 18 to actively partake in these online gambling rings.

Valve has clearly said that use of its OpenID API to run a gambling business is not allowed under the terms of the API and end-user agreements, but the practice still continues. To push for an end to this practice, Valve will soon begin sending out notices to these websites and request they cease their operations through Steam. If they do not, Valve said it is prepared to take further action to see that the abuse of its IP comes to an end.

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • anbello262
    Let's hope they don't start restricting or completely eliminate users item trading (practice that is becoming more and more common in mmorpgs, for example).
  • elbert
    Steam kind of has started restricting. If users for example dont have a cell number. Having to price items when posted make it nearly impossible to sale anything with a wait of 15 days. Valve should think about price setting once the 15 day wait has cleared.
  • wifiburger
    hum.. that seems like trash to me,
    glad I'm playing Destiny, lets see glimmer limit 25000 , legenday marks 200 and that's for 3 characters, no farming chance there and no trading, you want something in destiny better play for it and grind for that perfect roll :-)
  • redgarl
    Thank you free to play mentality, now we have this... thanks Capcom for on-disc dlc, amen...

    Now they ask themselve why they are losing the PC market.... guess what...
  • alidan
    cant wait till every game with a gamble mechanic gets slapped hard. overwatch, tf2, csgo are a few of the ones i know if where you have to pay money to roll the dice to get an item.
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Having to price items when posted make it nearly impossible to sale anything with a wait of 15 days.

    Yeah, that restriction is such loathsome rubbish. I usually do the 3 queues per day during winter and summer sales to get lots of free cards, then sell them off on the Market to get the funds for the cards I actually want (missing ones from the sets of the games I play). This last sale, couldn't do it - thanks to this nonsense. Couldn't complete a set either, got quadruplicates and triplicates of most cards but didn't get a single specimen of one elusive card. Ended up turning them all into gems - at least they had the decency to not remove them from our inventories when the sale ended and its cards expired. I want to opt out from this "security measure", but just like with many users' request for ability to pay the full price for non-regionlocked games you can gift to friends in ROW even if you're in a heavily discounted region (Asia, RU/CIS), Steam is deaf to what the users actually ask for.
  • ccampy
    Just make it completely against the rules to sell any ingame items for real money
  • anbello262
    Well, there's no way they can stop people selling/buyint virtual items for real money unless y9u completely eliminate item trading capabilities, which would be terrible (although it's getting more and more common)
  • surphninja
    Maybe Valve has not directly received revenue from these gambling sites, but they have absolutely profited from them indirectly. They also evade directly answering if they've ever coordinated with these sites in any way, which is the accusation that's been made.

    They may have maintained plausible deniability, but they were absolutely complicit in enabling this illegal gambling operation to thrive. They're not stupid, they closely monitor their community, and they knew exactly what was going on. They should've fixed this a long time ago, and they're only now addressing it because federal regulators are stepping in to put a stop to it.
  • Van der Berg
    They must forbid this thinks.