In context: Before it shut down, Steam Spy was the one place journalists and consumers could go to get a feel for how well (or poorly) a game was doing. Thankfully Valve seems to be working on tools to bring back the metrics that Steam Spy used to provide.
Following a presentation at the White Nights games industry conference in St. Petersburg, the company was asked if it had any plans to provide sales analytics to the public now that privacy policies had effectively shut Steam Spy down back in April.
“[Valve is] working on new tools and new ways of getting data out of Steam,” said Jan-Peter Ewert, Valve’s head of business development in a clip seen on Twitter.
He says developers are working on a better set of APIs that in most instances will be even more accurate than what Steam Spy once provided. Ewert explained that randomly sampling user data as Steam Spy did, led to “a broad variance in how accurate it was. It was very accurate for some things but very inaccurate for others.”
The company wants to offer something better so that its developers can accurately measure their sales and other metrics comparatively with others.
“The only way we make money is if you make good decisions in bringing the right games to the platform and finding your audience,” said Ewert addressing developers at the conference.
"Nothing is stopping them from hyping something up on empty promises."
Destructoid chides Valve somewhat for making such tools for developers without also bring them to the public. It feels that Steam Spy provided some form of transparency against developers who wanted to hype their games without good reason.
“If a developer wanted to lie and say their game was selling ‘amazingly’ and that ‘everyone should get in on a huge community’ they could do it -- nothing is stopping them from hyping something up on empty promises [except for Steam Spy].”
In other words, by only offering the tools to developers, Steam is essentially blindfolding the consumer again.
However, I am more optimistic. While initially the new metrics will be aimed at developers, I believe in time Valve, or someone in the community will bring such tools into the public sphere. Ewert made no indications that these APIs were going to be secret. In fact, he went out of his way to point out Valve’s long-standing position of providing "open APIs" to the community. So there is no reason to think these new ones will be any different.