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.