Valve is limiting big key requests to crack down on manipulation of Steam systems

Valve is limiting big key requests to crack down on manipulation of Steam systems

Steam firm Valve has said that it is keeping a closer eye on developer requests for massive batches of keys.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Valve said that it was doing so in order to stop people "manipulating Steam systems".

"Over the last few years, new features and additions to Steam have changed the way Steam keys were being used, for instance as a means for game-shaped objects to monetise on Steam through methods other than actually selling fun games to customers. Most notably, this meant farming Steam Trading Cards," said a Valve rep.

"While our changes did impact the economics of trading card farming for new products coming to Steam, there are still a lot of games and game-shaped objects using Steam keys as a way to manipulate Steam systems. As a result, we're trying to look more closely at extreme examples of products on Steam that don't seem to be providing actual value as playable games-for instance, when a game has sold 100 units, has mostly negative reviews, but requests 500,000 Steam keys. We're not interested in supporting trading card farming or bot networks at the expense of being able to provide value and service for players.

"It's completely OK for partners to sell their games on other sites via Steam keys, and run discounts or bundles on other stores, and we'll continue granting free keys to help partners do those things. But it's not OK to negatively impact our customers by manipulating our store and features."

This follows a comment from Valve engineer Sean Jenkin, who in a private post on Steamworks said that Valve was limiting keys.

“If we are denying keys for normal size batches it’s likely because your Steam sales don’t reflect a need for as many keys as you’re distributing,” he said.

“You’re probably asking for more keys because you’re offering cheaper options off Steam and yet we are bearing the costs," he said. "So at some point we start deciding that the value you’re bringing Steam isn’t worth the cost to us.”

He added that if there is a substantial disparity between the amount of games you've sold on Steam, and the of number keys you've requested and activated, Valve is "going to take a deeper look at your games, your sales, your costs, etc."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.


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