Valve has made some changes to the way they handle user accounts on their Steam game distribution platform. From now on, if you don't spend at least $5 on the service in some form, you will have a range of community features disabled until you do so.
If you've already spent at least $5 on games in the Steam store, or you have $5 or more in your Steam Wallet, the changes won't affect you and you'll still have full access to Steam's many features. As many people will have taken advantage of Steam's popular sales throughout the years, quite a number of users will see no change to their account status.
However, if you fail to meet the new spending criteria, you will find yourself unable to send friend invites, post in discussions, vote on Greenlight games, or gain Trading Cards, among other things. Basically, your account is locked down and severely limited until you spend $5 through the service.
Valve says that these changes are meant to prevent abuse. The company discovered many malicious accounts operating in the community hadn't spent any money on Steam, as they were essentially throwaway accounts. "Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam", the company said.
Valve has also clarified that certain actions will not remove the limitations on a user's account. If someone activates a retail game or a game key through Steam, plays a free game, or redeems a Steam gift, the $5 threshold will not be met and the account in question will remain locked down.