We're all aware there's no Steam app for Windows powered phones. But now it's becoming a real problem.
Or it is if you're actively involved in trading on the platform. If you're not, you might not even know what this latest policy change is and what it means if you're carrying a Windows Phone in your pocket. That was the case for the staff at Windows Central, and mention of it in our comments section was our first real introduction.
And there's a growing number of folks taking exception to being left out in the cold again.
So, for those that don't know, what is this all about? It concerns a new policy implemented by the Steam overlords that necessitates the use of the Steam Guard authentication system when completing trades. Steam Guard itself is open to all users since you can get two-factor codes sent to you by email, but trades require the use of a mobile app for the swiftest conclusion.
In a recent blog post outlining the policy and the reasons behind it, Valve states:
"We needed to create our own two-factor authenticator because we need to show users the contents of the trade on a separate device and have them confirm it there. Requiring users to take a code from a generic authenticator and enter it into a hijacked PC to confirm a trade meant that hackers could trick them into trading away items they didn't intend to. This basically made it impossible to use a generic third party authenticator, such as Google Authenticator, to confirm trades."
I'm not here to debate whether or not Valve's security tactics are the right way to do it. Mostly because I'm as far from a security expert as you can get. But that's what we've got. Because Steam doesn't just want a code, Valve built its own system. OK, not the worst thing in the world.
The problem then lies in what happens when you don't have an Android phone or an iPhone lying around to use Steam Guard with:
"This means that anyone using the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator to confirm trades is able to continue trading as always. Users who haven't enabled it, or can't, can still trade, but they'll have to wait up to 3 days for the trade to go through. This gives both Steam and users the time to discover their accounts have been hacked and recover it before the hackers can steal their items."
Part of this enhanced security is the sheer number of Steam accounts which are compromised. Valve states this is a whopping 77,000 accounts every month, so rightly so, action has to be taken. And since they're making money from Steam trading as well, there's no reason for it to cease altogether.
So, if you're on a Windows Phone or a new Windows 10 Mobile phone, you're firmly relegated to the slow lane. You can't complete trades instantly unless someone close to you has a supported device you can use so you'll have to sit and wait for three days. There's little other option right now. But while this is understandably frustrating, securing your account should be the bigger priority.
There's a whole detailed post on what's happening and why it's happening over on the Steam blog which you'll find linked below. With regards to mobile, we have reached out to Valve in the hope of getting a statement on any future (or not) for Windows Phone users and a Steam mobile app. But do remember, this is the company that seems to have refused to make another Half Life game, so there's a good chance it just doesn't care about making one.
We will, of course, update if and when we hear anything back from anyone at Valve.
Source: Steam Blog