Valve has finally decided to crack down on spammers and scammers who make dummy accounts and attempt to leverage Steam's features for their nefarious ends. How are they cracking down on spammers? By putting a purchase cap on accounts that want to access Steam's full features.
Over on the Steam support page there's a detailed rundown of the Limited User Accounts. These new limited accounts limit users on what they can do and what service functions they'll have at their disposal.
According to the support page...
“We've chosen to limit access to these features as a means of protecting our customers from those who abuse Steam for purposes such as spamming and phishing.
The first question most people have is “Well what if I don't have $5.00 for a new account?” You can add a Steam Wallet account with $5.00. You can have a parent or someone you know purchase a game with $5.00 or more. You can also purchase a Steam gift valued at $5.00 or more.
For those of you who don't deal with the USD currency, don't sweat it: Valve will do the proper conversions for your until your local currency hits the USD $5.00 mark. It's all about the $5.00 mark.
The next series of questions are, quite naturally, probably centered around what you can't do. Well, you can't send friend requests, you can't open group chats in Steam, you can't vote for games on Greenlight (which makes total sense given that it prevents people from making mass fake accounts to push a game through Greenlight), you can't upvote or rate Steam reviews or Workshop items, you can't post frequently in Steam forum discussions or level up your profile. It should also go without saying that you are also restricted from submitting content to the Steam Workshop.
Additionally, your account will not be lifted from the Limited User Account status by downloading free demos or free-to-play games like APB: Reloaded, Team Fortress 2 or other MMOs. Activating promo CD keys that come as bonuses with hardware such as GPUs or other computer components also doesn't count. Free weekends will also not level up your account, nor will adding non-Steam games to your account purchased through another digital distributor.
Now if you do manage to pay the $5 fee but then have the bank do a charge-back or you get a refund for whatever reason, the support page states...
“If a purchase amount is returned to your bank, the amount will be subtracted from your account's total purchase value. If the refund or dispute amount brings your account's total purchase value below $5 USD, then your account will lose access to these features.”
Much in the same way that I think that Valve adding the one-time $100 service fee charge to add games to Steam Greenlight, I can't really fault Valve for the $5.00 charge for turning free, first-time accounts into full-fledged accounts. You can learn more about Steam's limited accounts, restrictions and requires by paying a visit to the Steam support page.