One of the most useful resources on the entire web when it comes to sales data and market performance and player engagement tracking is Sergey Galyonkin’s Steam Spy. Galyonkin is a direct of publishing strategy at Epic Games, but recently he had an interview with Eurogamer explaining that Steam Spy is basically finished.
In the interview Galyonkin explains that a new update to Steam has privatized all of the user’s library data, which has, in turn, blocked Steam Spy from accessing the profiles in order to pull ownership data for games. Steam Spy was an invaluable tool for gauging estimated sales data for PC titles sold through Steam.
“Valve never informs anyone of any changes, so it’s not surprising really. What they did was post it in their blog post, while rolling out their privacy changes. They made users’ game libraries hidden by default and that’s what makes Steam Spy operate. Steam Spy uses user libraries to understand what users have and then extrapolate data based on that. I don’t know why they did it.”
The update that Galyonkin is referring to is the one posted on April 10th, 2018 over on the Steam Blog.
The update explains that the update is about giving users more control over their privacy settings, and allowing them to manage who can see what and how their friends have access to some of their stats.
The post states…
“[…] regardless of which setting you choose for your profile’s game details, you now have the option to keep your total game playtime private. You no longer need to nervously laugh it off as a bug when your friends notice the 4,000+ hours you’ve put into Ricochet.”
The default setting is on private now, so it means that in order to extrapolate ownership data from profiles, the more than 125 million registered users would have to turn off the privacy setting.
In some ways this setting makes sense because users who play a lot of sexy-time and lewd games have requested to hide some of these titles from their public profile, so that family members and friends can’t readily see that they’ve been spending a lot of naughty time with their digital waifus. However, this wide-sweeping privacy update from Valve has also broken Steam Spy’s functionality.
According to Galyonkin, he’ll continue working on Steam Spy, but not publicly since the margin of error is now too wide to be useful. He explained to Eurogamer…
“I will probably continue with the version of Steam Spy that I intend to use myself, but I will probably not make it public.”
So there you have it. Steam Spy is no longer going to be all that useful moving forward unless Galyonkin finds a workaround for the system.