New Steam Privacy Changes Kill Steam Spy Service


While Steam's new privacy features seem like a good thing in general, this update is bad news for Steam Spy, a service many people use to track game sales and trends. Valve has changed profile privacy settings to make it possible to hide your "game details, ' including the games you own and have on your wishlist, as well as the related metadata like achievements and playtime".

Changes to user profile privacy settings were announced via a blog post - and can be read here - but the move to hide consumer libraries by default, the aspect that has actually damaged SteamSpy, is not mentioned. Also, they can choose to stop broadcasting what game they are now playing.

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In addition to all the previously available options such as profile and inventory visibility, the settings page is now home to the "Game details" category.

Other third-party tracking sites such as AStats are also affected, unable to reach core data needed to calculate statistics. Steam Spy used that information to show game data regarding owners, playtime and score rank. "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". In response to a Twitter inquiry as to whether Steam Spy will keep its existing data up, Steam Spy creator Sergey Galyonkin replied: "Yes, pretty much". (For our purposes, we've lumped this decision in with "privacy settings", because Valve is changing a default setting that affects user privacy.) The goals are the same-protecting Steam users' privacy-but changing the default settings for game libraries has the side effect of blocking Steam Spy. With Invisible selected, you will appear to others as though you are Offline, but still have access to your friends list and the ability to send and receive messages. Valve doesn't give a timeline for the release of invisible mode, but says that it hopes to launch it in beta soon. But it looks as though Steam Spy has become an unlucky recipient of collateral damage as the world has belatedly realised how the web giants' apparently "free" services are in reality a means of mining users' personal data.