Valve explains new Steam Guard trading policies, still doesn't help Windows Phone owners

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.

Steam Guard

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

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

161 Comments
  • Good thing when Windows 10 Mobile is release we'll be able to port iOS and Android apps. Right? Thats what I been hearing.
  • If by we you mean developers, then yes. But Android app bridging has been ceased for now it seems.
  • Yes, only iOS for now and it is the developers responsibility to do so, it can't be done by the end user. However, for something as simple as an authenticator app there is simply no reason to not just create a separate UWP project from scratch, and a company the size of Steam has no excuse to not do so other than they don't want to, unfortunately quite a few CEOs are showing a lot of spite towards Microsoft and as a result their customers suffer which is an extremely bad practise in business. While nobody can force them to make an app, I do think that this kind of behaviour should be considered illegal under anti trust / monopoly law suits.
  • Company is valve, not Steam :-) But you are right, mobile app is basically essential now for using Steam, so it should be available to wp users, despite only 3% share.
  • 3% is still millions of users based on Steam user numbers, so by all means its not a small number. This sort of behaviour by Valve is disgusting, and I will seriously reconsider spending any more money on games directly sold from their store, if they continue to refuse support for Windows customers.
  • Doesn't mean anything that there are millions. Chances are these steam users do not own many windows phones. I bet Valve has done its market research.But in any case, it is VERY cheap and easy to do it. They are just spiteful.  ​I DO NOT buy games on steam,
  • I mean,throw Microsoft bone... The mass majority of steam users play on pc. Same with google... These companies would shizz their pants if Microsoft said acrew steam, we are forcing. Users to use Xbox and Bing only....
  • Gabe hates Microsoft...bad blood and I suppose he holds a grudge forever? whatever =\
  • To get your personal feelings involved when it comes to business and customer support is childish and stupid and just unprofessional. Anyone that acts like this should be removed from leading any company.
  • Makes sense. Who wouldn't hold a grudge on the company that made him bilionaire? I mean c'mon. It's obviously Gabe does what every normal person would do :|
  • Actually, that would most likely cause a huge backlash from the gaming community. Valve has been pushing devs to develop for Linux (with great success compared to previous efforts). It's slowly becoming a serious alternative for gaming on a desktop, and let's not forget not everyone holds Microsoft close to their heart. Personally, I have several hundreds of dollars invested into Steam games. If Microsoft was arrogant enough to kick Steam off Windows, I would simply sideboot with Ubuntu or SteamOS for free and I sure wouldn't want anything to do with Microsoft anymore.
  • Good luck with that. If you look at Steam user statistics Linux still makes a tiny fraction of the user base and majority of new [especially non-indie] releases still don't support it and most probably never will as its just not worth the extra investment for the tiny percentage in gained sales to Linux users.  
  • I seriously doub it. I for example own 700 Steam games and 100+ on Origin / Uplay / GOG.However, only ~150 are availiable for Linux and about 250 on OSX and as far as I've seen there is no plan to port them. This being said, I will join the milions of user who will never use Linux as a gaming machine. I use it for work (along side with Windows and OSX) but that's it.
  • alright, the android bridge is drawn up. so what? we still have 3 bridges left; and Steam, if willing, has 2 routes open. They have a win32 application running for Windows PCs, i personally think Project Sentinel should provide them with the right path to provide them with superior security allowing a room for a responsive universal app for windows 10 mobile as a by-product. They cover one of the biggest Steam user base by moving from a Win32 app to a modern app, while also future-proofing themselves, and as a bonus they get a user base untapped in the windows mobile eco-system without much headache of managing a separate windows 10 mobile app. I understand all of this is a Coming Soon™, but this is a win-win for everyone. Oh and btw, if Steam really cared, they could use the new Windows store to authenticate Windows 10 users' validity and provide a tier 2 security level. You just gotta think through it.
  • Project Centennial is not a solution creating UWP apps. It's a way for desktop developers to package their apps for the Windows Store, but that does not mean they will run on mobile. Here is how Microsoft describes it: "Project Centennial: This toolkit will enable desktop developers to package and publish their existing .NET and Win32-based Windows applications to the Windows Store. Developers can also use Centennial to call common UWP APIs and services." Even if they could be ported to ARM (Microsoft never allowed this for Windows RT), these apps will never run on Windows 10 Mobile devices because they require Win32 and/or .NET APIs that are unavailable on that version of Windows. (If Microsoft had preserved Windows RT, then maybe, but that concept failed.)
  • Uhh... I could be wrong but didn't they cut the plans to allow porting over Apps from Apple / Android? Or at least one of them? Last month or so I came across the code for using Tower or DroidPlanner ( not sure which one ) on WP10 and when I started digging into it looked like the necessary code for this to work has been removed from the latest releases of Windows 10 and looking further it appeared like at least one ( Android? ) of the two Systems was/has been dropped. So yeah... Not exactly something to put your hopes into. Could be entirels wrong though...
  • They android bridge project has been scrapped. At least for now anyway, the iOS bridge is available but still a work in progress.
  • If valve WANT to port over, you mean? Because it's on the devs. If they don't then that's that. No one is porting over anything but the devs themselves.
  • There's actually a 3rd party steam guard app in the process of testing right now... So we might get lucky pretty soon.
  • There are a couple of them actually, and you can get them now - here's one: Steam Authenticator App for Windows Mobile 10: https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • I wouldn't trust a third party authenticator app tbh
  • Dont get your hopes up about steam app, I mailed them regarding this already and they have no plan to do it.
  • Valve was upset when Windows 8 came out because the store (in theory) competes with their platform for selling games. This is clearly another company more interested in trying to show Microsoft that they are ****** than in serving their customers.
  • I dont see how Windows store competes with Steam, unless you can buy real desktop games from Windows Store, which I am not aware of its possible, tho I heard it will be.
  • Exactly... it's more of a potential future threat.
  • Well, you can have a store with-in a store. For instance the BBC Store app is in the windows store and it is a universal app. I'm sure if Valve and Microsoft Got it together they would be able to work something out.
  • After what Valve did disregarding all its Windows Phone customers, if the Windows Store ever starts selling all the games Steam has, I will not give another cent to Valve. In the long run, this move to screw a good portion of your own customers will come and bite Valve in the ***.
  • You think Windows Phone users are a good portion of Steam users?! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The Xbox app is definitely becoming a bit of a Steam-like experience.
  • No big deal install bluestacks and you are good to go
  • How do you install Bluestacks on mobile?
  • The idea is to install it on the PC running steam, install the steam app in it, and basically make this whole two step authentication thing useless, because then hackers can simply authenticate on the hacked PC. Unless the stream app doesn't work on blue stacks. Otherwise, I now understand why they don't make a WP app -they're stupid.
  • You can also install android in a virtual machine on your PC http://www.android-x86.org/releases/releasenote-4-4-r3 if you dont want to use bluestacks; To only make an iOS and Android app shows that Valve is not really serious about user security, this is more of a move to screw Microsoft's Windows Phone users.  
  • BlueStacks sucks. It also doesn't run on a phone.
  • That's exactly what I do
  • Yes and no. The facilities to do this will be there to make porting easier. However, the actual port still has to be done by the developer. That said, it may be easier, say, to port something like SnapChat (let's call that 180 Dev hours in one week) but it's up to the developer if they find it worthwhile or even want to. So Steam would have to decide if they want to take their already complete app and convert it...
  • Haven't bought anything on steam in 7 years now, so no real impact for me. Though i do not unterstand why the there is no steam universal app yet.
  • I imagine that if the Universal Windows store takes off and starts adding more and more big name games, they'll take exception to the competition.
  • Windows store sells apps, sandboxed software. Steam have games as real programs that run on the machine level, so they will never be comparable unless the Windows store changes drastically.
  • That's not entirely true, the only real difference is that Steam games run in a different environment. UWP apps have access to hardware, and many of the simple games that Steam offers could be downloaded from the store, ANY of them could be purchased in the store, then downloaded from a website and run as WIN32 apps.
  • It's basically what I said, the Windows store could have "desktop apps" like the games on Steam are, but not as it is now.
    The Store games have acces to hardware, but not in the same way as traditional programs have.
  • Yeah it's not like they have anything specific to android or ios, so there's no real reason not to make an app...
  • GoG few. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The same reason there isn't a Steam app for BBOS. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Just support Xbox and the Xbox app.
  • A bit rude, considering the sheer number of their customers running windows 8 and up
  • That's got nothing to do with windows mobile. Most of those customers will have android and IOS. Hence the slow lane comment.
  • I guess we could always just use BlueStacks. It's my fallback when something isn't available that I don't need to use often. Doesn't fix my banking app problem though :[
  • Exactly. In in the same boat. That's why its a rather pathetic and patchy fallback. I've bought an iphone 6s plus as a spare use phone. Blue stacks is cheaper, of course.
  • But you do know out of spite they can block it being used unless you use one of those sites that bypasses gp login to download & sideload it
  • He has every right, all windows pc's could have universal app installed 8+, which would solve mobile too
  • But according to everyone on this site "I have all the apps I need" so I don't see a problem..... /s
  • Reality distortion field fail.
  • What are you talking about?
  • The chap above me made a sarcastic joke, just as I did. If you don't get it don't worry about it.
  • If you read comments most of the time you'd know that isn't true. Stop trolling.
  • Did someone kick your kitten or something? It's a joke.
  • Why are you replying to people who replied to someone else? Just curious.
  • The wc app really doesn't make it obvious who is replying to whom.
  • Nailed it.
  • Unfortunately Gabe is very anti Windows and even if WP had 80% market share he would likely not create an app for us. Gabe is so anti windows that he has refused to use Windows in his new steam boxes which resulted in over 50% of steam games being unable to run games bought through steam.
  • In all fairness... A Steam Box isn't a Steam Box if it's a Windows PC ;-)
  • But he is right about Valve´s anti-MS policy.
  • That's by the by. Steam would never have taken off if not for Windows. Regardless of personal opinions.
  • Steam and Valve would never taken off if not for Windows. He (they) just wants a bigger piece of the pie.
  • Exactly, it is kind of insane to now disregard many Windows customers that have a WP when they are the reason you even exist.    
  • A Steam Box is where you go to take a ****.
  • Did you mean S**t Box?
  • I've never used Steam and this is just one more reason I never will.
  • Lol their drm policies werent as favorable as gfwl was & having to pay in usd isn't viable for Canadians now that the loonie is weaker.(sure you can get prepaid from ebgames but not worth the effort) Gog has so far been pretty good for older games
  • This is where you leverage windows 10 universal, the desktop platform already makes up a big chunk of their user base, then it just works on mobile
  • Go out and buy a $hitty android phone for like 20$, only use it on WiFi. Or take an old android phone you have and download the app...... Problem solved. This is one of those niche things us Windows phone users miss out on
  • Sure, and give them more market share in return.
  • Oh no?
  • Oh yes!
  • I had to do this, to become an uber driver. Got a $10 android phone and tether it to my 950 for data, to pick up uber passengers. Sucks but until devs start appeasing their customers, I have to find work arounds
  • It's not really hurting WP to buy an android device to use for these types of things. You could also buy a used phone/tablet for a pretty low price.
  • I'm pretty sure you still have to have a valid wireless number.
  • So did the same team that developed the security that allows 77,000 accounts to be compromised each month develop this new authentication system? Brilliant.
  • I'm sure it's the user that's the security problem, and not Valve's security.
     
  • ya know right
  • It's user error not Valves fault that people's accounts get compromised. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I am pretty sure Gabe will make an app for Ubuntu Phone but Windows Phone.
  • Because it's Linux.
  • Or tizen
  • Firefox OS version already in works.
  • There is a lot of topics on Steam discussion asking for Windows app. And what are they doing? Deleting posts... I've opened a support ticket and they answered me that they have no plans to release it to Windows. Of course... Gabe Newell is the owner. He hates Windows.
  • Censorship on the Steam forums is nothing you, some of their moderators are real dicks that don't like anything negative posted about Valve, and Valve support is the worst support of any company around, don't expect any help other then an automated response from them.    
  • F**K STEAM
    THEY DONT SUPPORT WP WE DONT SUPPORT THEM WINDOWS STORE ONLY MOFOS