Steam Spy says it is shutting down due to Valve's privacy update

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Steam Spy—the analytics site used to discover stats such as game ownership and play times among users of Valve’s platform—is shutting down. Operator Sergey Galyonkin said that the decision is due to an update in Steam’s user privacy settings, which in most cases will hide the information relied on by Steam Spy.

In a recent blog post, Steam announced that its new profile privacy settings allow users “to manage how you are viewed by your friends, or the wider Steam community.” It’s likely that the change has been at least partly prompted by the new industry focus on user privacy—a result of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica saga. Steam claims, however, that it came about from user feedback.

One of these changes makes games owned by Steam users hidden by default. This data is required by Steam Spy, and as such, the site “won’t be able to operate anymore.” Some people may choose to opt-in and make their owned games viewable, but Galyonkin writes that this wouldn’t be enough for Steam Spy's estimates.

“To reiterate - it's not because of the new privacy settings. It's because Steam just made everyone's gaming library hidden by default (this wasn't in their blog post),” tweeted Galyonkin, who said that Steam Spy would probably remain only as an “archive.”

Another privacy change Steam is introducing is the “invisible” mode. This sits alongside the “online”, “away” and “offline” options, allowing you to appear offline but still able to view your friends list and send and receive messages. The feature will be ready for a beta release soon.

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I don't see any problem with Steam's changes whatsoever. Sorry that his website isn't going to be able to function anymore, but finding out that a 3rd-party had access to Steam's data (when Steam probably already had options to provide that anonymous report data -- & still probably does) doesn't exactly make me happy. Knowing Steam has changed that policy makes me very happy, though.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
"It’s likely that the change has been at least nearly completely prompted by the new industry focus on user privacy—a result of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica saga. Steam claims, however, that did not come about from user feedback that they have been hearing for decades and didn't care to do anything."

Fixed
 

BLACKED

TS Rookie
I don't see any problem with Steam's changes whatsoever. Sorry that his website isn't going to be able to function anymore, but finding out that a 3rd-party had access to Steam's data (when Steam probably already had options to provide that anonymous report data -- & still probably does) doesn't exactly make me happy. Knowing Steam has changed that policy makes me very happy, though.
The information Steam Spy had access to was all public information so I have no idea why you wrote a comment as vague as "but finding out that a 3rd-party had access to Steam's data... doesn't exactly make me happy" knowing full well how intellectually dishonest that statement is. Steam Spy doesn't have your name or credit card info and it cant dox you it just takes info shown on your profile (which you can set to cough private cough and avoid this problem entirely LOL) and also steam doesn't show not even close to as much info as Steam Spy does. That collection of information could very well tell the consumer if a game is dying or not which is probably important for most consumers to know (but its not as if steam and the various game devs would have any biased reasons to hide that information from you...oh wait I forgot...they do...smh)
 
The information Steam Spy had access to was all public information so I have no idea why you wrote a comment as vague as "but finding out that a 3rd-party had access to Steam's data... doesn't exactly make me happy" knowing full well how intellectually dishonest that statement is. Steam Spy doesn't have your name or credit card info and it cant dox you it just takes info shown on your profile (which you can set to cough private cough and avoid this problem entirely LOL) and also steam doesn't show not even close to as much info as Steam Spy does. That collection of information could very well tell the consumer if a game is dying or not which is probably important for most consumers to know (but its not as if steam and the various game devs would have any biased reasons to hide that information from you...oh wait I forgot...they do...smh)
So he was complaining because he was previously releasing a report that was identical to the reports Steam would be able to release anyway. That kind of information was already available from store.steampowered.com/stats. That already gives you the most popular games, how many users are online at a given time, how many tech support calls they had, etc. And I wouldn't be surprised if developers already have access to usage/purchase stats for their particular games, so it's not like they were depending on him to provide that information for them.

And considering that, in order to get the data, his API had access to all user profiles & their data, yes, I think some people might have cause to be personally concerned. WWhere's the documentation for the API that stipulates the type of access that it had to the user profile data? Was it 100% anonymized? How detailed was the data -- was it just your total login time for the day/week/month, for example, or (even with the actual username hidden) would it actually say, "User X logged in at this time of the day & played for Z minutes straight before logging out"?

Or maybe it's much simpler: maybe Valve didn't find it appropriate that he was building a database of people's names & email addresses (required for the "free" login to access the day-by-day stats on his site), when their site already provided that information without needing to provide a login.
 

lostinlodos

TS Booster
Not that I care, in reality, but I wasn’t aware that my ownership was shared. Since I never play online to any extent.
IS there a way to make the offline use games public?
I’ve been flamed in the past for my views but I actually like targeted advertising and use a few sites to build aggregate profiles for making recommendations on my rather unique film tastes too. So if that information could be used in general I’m all for that.

I get that a lot of people want privacy but I’m not one of them. Any pro privacy methodology should have a way to turn it off.
Be nice if I could make my game purchases and use generally public to advertisers and publishers. Much the same way I can turn tracking on on web browsers.