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Steam is the world’s biggest platform for the distribution of video games, as well a kind of social media where people play games together with friends, share screenshots, join groups, and even flaunt their cosmetics collection. One of the most revolutionary features of Steam was the ability to purchase games for others as “gifts”. Steam allowed players to keep gifts in their inventory, in case they want to wait for a special occasion for gifting others.

Not any more. As of today (that is, the 4th of May,2017), Steam will not be allowing users to store unsent gifts in their inventory. Purchased gifts have to be sent at once to the recipients ; the option to store gifts in an inventory to send later has been officially revoked by Steam. The ability to send gifts to other players by directly sending it to the email associated with the Steam account of the recipient has also been done away with.

Gifts purchased now will have to be gifted to other players added on the Steam friends list immediately.  If the recipient chooses to decline the gift, either because he already has it, or because he does not want the game, then the gift won’t be stored in the buyer’s inventory. Instead, players would be issued a refund the instant a gift has been refused. Moreover, cross country gifting is available now, in a highly limited fashion. If there is a large difference between the prices of the game in the country of the recipient and that of the buyer, then the recipient won’t be able to receive the gift, and Steam will inform the buyer beforehand.

There has been a very shady underground economy where people used to sell Steam gifts in exchange for money (which occurs in violation of Steam’s terms and conditions).  Sellers stock games during Steam sale, and sell during non-sale times. Also, people used VPN’s to purchase gifts from other regions, and redeem on other accounts, mostly from regions where games are very cheap (like Brazil, India, Russia, etc). Steam’s announcement has struck a crucial blow at these illegal practices, and hopefully will end the back-alley practices which are a blot to the PC gaming scene.

Those interested in reading the announcement can head here : https://steamcommunity.com/games/593110/announcements/detail/1301948399254001159

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