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Why Free Money Suddenly Showed Up In Some People's Steam Accounts

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Late yesterday, a handful of Steam users suddenly found their Steam wallets flush with a small amount of fresh cash. They had no idea why. Given that Steam is no stranger to scams, hacks, and account hijackings, they suspected foul play. Fortunately, it seems like there’s nothing to worry about.

It began with Steam users receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 gifted to their Steam wallets with no explanation. It came from “Valve Mastercard,” which some users took to be official Valve tender, while others raised a skeptical eyebrow. It appeared to be a refund, but if that was the case, why would Valve do it in such a roundabout way? Some users cited a scam they’d heard about that was similar. They held off on spending the money despite the fact that other Steam users should not be able to send Steam wallet funds directly to you.

Hours later, however, people began reporting that they’d received emails from Valve confirming that, yes, Valve was actually pulling the strings on this one. In short, Valve failed to apply a loyalty discount to Steam’s Dark Souls III + Steam Controller bundle for some eligible users, so they decided to retroactively make up the difference. Pretty cool of them!


However, people’s initial reaction speaks to the general uncertainty surrounding Steam’s security protocols, a feeling that’s only bolstered by a lack of timely communication. On the upside, at least Valve explained the situation to people within a day—not days, weeks, or months after—this time. It says something about a platform, though, when your first reaction to receiving free money from the platform’s creator isn’t, “Rad! Free money!” It doesn’t help that Valve’s had multiple high profile malfunctions and breaches lately. But then, I suppose that’s also kinda just the internet these days. You can’t really take anything at face value.


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