Valve Adds Warnings To Steam To Protect Users From Scam Items

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Yesterday, an issue that’s been simmering below the surface of Steam for a few weeks came to a head: Unscrupulous developers were releasing games that contained dummy items masquerading as Team Fortress 2 and DoTA 2 rarities that sell for hundreds of dollars. Now Valve has addressed the issue.

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Yesterday, Valve removed two different games from the Steam store for peddling fake items, and now it’s trying to cut those scams off at the pass. If a Steam user is receiving items for a game they’ve never played or that’s been recently released, they now get multiple warning pop-ups before trades go through. If you think you’re trading for a long-sought TF2 weapon, but actually it’s a fake listing connected to some game nobody’s ever heard of, you’ll know that something fishy is going on.

Posting on the Steam subreddit, Valve developer Tony Paloma said that more security measures are on the way.

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“We also started requiring approval for app name changes, and have more planned to address this sort of problem that we couldn’t get done in one day,” Paloma wrote. “We are hopeful that having to dismiss two warning dialogs will be sufficient to make people think twice about trades containing forged items, but this is not the end of our response, and we’ll continue to monitor, of course.”

He also noted that anybody who was scammed prior to these warnings being in place will get the item they traded for a scam item back.

It’s an uncharacteristically fast response from Valve, who’s been known to take weeks or months to patch up even the spurting-est of Steam leaks and loopholes. Perhaps it’s a sign that the company is turning over a new leaf. Or maybe it just decided to laser target this particular issue because scammers’ latest low blow hits Valve right in its bottom line. As ever, Valve works in mysterious ways, but it definitely likes money.

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Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

Ultimately, I think this is a “buyer beware” situation.

Consumer protections exist for a reason, and even in online markets like Steam, they have good reason to be where they are—but in the end, as my senior DI used to say, “there’s no cure for stupid.”

Valve could put up every warning sign, flashing red light, and giant, “HEY, THIS THING IS SUSPECT. MAYBE DON’T CLICK IT WITHOUT THINKING,” e-billboard imaginable, and there would still be people claiming they were rooked by illicit practices, when a modicum of research and forethought would’ve saved them from their present predicament.

That said, there are definitely some fairly refined and insidious scams permeating a number of online storefronts these days—and no one (not even me, no matter how much I pretend otherwise) is immune to the occasional wish-fulfillment impulse buy.

Honestly, I think the line has to be drawn in fire between consumer accountability and corporate responsibility, and that burning border needs to be part of an agreement the user is forced to read through prior to clicking “I Agree.”  This is the only way I can see to deal with the fact that so many people bypass EULAs, general product descriptions, and even giant warnings posted to potentially hazardous products (said the guy with a significant love of beer), and will immediately turn around and cry foul when their failure to investigate their own purchases, decisions, and behaviors bites them in the ass.