Steam Spy, the Steam statistics tracking service beloved by developers (and oft-misused by the press) has suddenly stopped working.
This morning, Valve – software developer, publisher, and operator of the biggest digital distribution platform, Steam – made a change to the Steam platform’s privacy settings. You can read about the details in a blog post.
The thrust of the changes are to allow players to keep a better track of their privacy, by implementing more control over who can see what you own and what you’re playing at the time. “This setting also controls whether you’re seen as ‘in-game’ and the title of the game you are playing,” according to the blog post.
“Additionally, regardless of which setting you choose for your profile’s game details, you now have the option to keep your total game playtime private,” the post continues. “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,” Valve quips, sardonically.
This has caused something of an existential crisis for Steam Spy, the Steam stats tracking service we all love to follow, consume, and sometimes read a little too much into.
On Twitter this morning, Steam Spy developer Sergey Galyonkin tweeted:
Valve just made a change to their privacy settings, making games owned by Steam users hidden by default.
Steam Spy relied on this information being visible by default and won't be able to operate anymore.https://t.co/0ejZgRQ6Kd
— Steam Spy (@Steam_Spy) April 11, 2018
Then followed up with a clarifying post, pointing out that it’s not Valve’s welcome changes to privacy controls, but instead the move to hide all library content and all playtime for all players by default – not specifically mentioned in the blog post – which has effectively broken Steam Spy:
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).
— Steam Spy (@Steam_Spy) April 11, 2018
People are, understandably, rather unhappy about the loss of Steam Spy. It’s a service that indie developers often use to make projections and assess potential target audiences for their projects, and it will be sorely missed.
Additionally, Steam Spy is powered by a supporter-funded Patreon which, at the time of writing, earns Sergey Galyonkin US$7,700 a month to fund his efforts and keep the service running.
We reached out to Galyonkin for comment on Valve’s privacy changes, the impact on Steam Spy, and what will be happening with his Patreon. We will update this story when we hear back.
We haven’t reached out to Valve for comment, because there’s not really any point.
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