As part of a recent round of tweaks to Steam, Valve made some subtle quality-of-life changes to Steam’s gifting system. Users, however, pointed out that the consequences are farther-reaching than they initially seem.
What the change is: First and foremost, gifting is now more straightforward. Instead of gifting games to a friend’s email address or Steam inventory, the exchange is direct. If somebody declines your gift, the game does not wind up in your inventory, as it would before. Instead, you get a refund. Also, cross-country gifting—which is gifting between regions, not gifting while running five kilometers and wishing you had friends in high school—has been simplified. The game either goes straight into a friend’s account or, if there’s too much of a price disparity between regions, gifting it to them simply isn’t an option.
What people are saying about it: Users have pointed out some downsides. For one, it won’t be possible to stockpile gifts and hand them out to whoever, you know, whenever—for instance, during a holiday. You can schedule gifts in advance, but you’ve gotta have a specific individual in mind. Users from regions that traditionally over-charge for games are especially worried, given that these changes collectively take away their main means of acquiring games at reasonable prices.
Other users, however, note that this will also probably strike a heavy blow to sketchy gray market sites like G2A, seeing as there are now fewer ways for people to acquire Steam keys. Moreover, the way it worked previously was, resellers would sometimes buy a gift, keep it in their inventory, sell a copy of a game on G2A, and then friend whoever they’d sold the game to and give them the game as a gift. Now that’s no longer possible. This, when paired with upcoming changes that’ll allow developers to directly hand out keys to reviewers within Steam (rather than distribute them as exploitable keys), will likely turn that scene on its head.
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