March 27, 2019

Valve Tightening Privacy With New Steam Privacy Changes

12 April 2018, 12:58 | Dale Webster

New Valve privacy settings force Steam Spy to shut down

Steam Spy ceases operations after Valve changes privacy settings

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still roiling, Silicon Valley companies have collectively just discovered that privacy is something they care about.

Steam Spy has been a tremendously helpful tool over the years, offering estimates on how individual games are selling and how many people are actively playing them, among other insights.

Valve announced new privacy settings for Steam users Tuesday, allowing people to change how much information others can see in their profiles and who is allowed to see it. Valve also said that in the future, an "invisible" feature will be added that will allow you to appear offline but still use the service's online features. 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. 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". Such changes are a welcome adjustment to overall user privacy, but there's a price to be paid for them.

Valve's blog post explains that all users' game libraries will now be set to private by default, meaning all those floundering game libraries out there in cyberspace will be unreachable to SteamSpy. Although it has not always been 100 percent accurate, PC gamers considered it as a useful tool to check if a Steam game title was worth the purchase. Its reports serve as a way to monitor whether a game is becoming more or less popular, or to track the impact of reduced prices on sales figures.

The public game library data was the crux of Steam Spy's operation, and such creator Sergey Galyonkin made the announcement via Twitter that, as such, it wouldn't be able to work anymore without that crucial data. 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. We'll see how the whole thing shakes out, but at the moment, things aren't looking great for our old friend Steam Spy.

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