New Steam Privacy Changes Kill Steam Spy Service

Aurich Lawson

Aurich Lawson

Steam Spy did that for you by automatically scanning profiles to learn more about what games are popular at any given time. With the changes Valve has introduced, however, it's not going to be around anymore - it won't be able to grab said information by default anymore.

As explained over on the Steam blog, users can now determine who can see the "game details" on their profiles, a phrase which encompasses everything listed above. As Steam profiles contain a wealth of information on users, such as their entire game libraries, total play time for each title, and the achievements they've earned, these new features will probably be welcomed by more than a few.

"Today's update expands on your Profile Privacy Settings Page, giving you more control over the privacy of your Steam account". As such, the changes will end up making several important tools, such as Steam Spy, essentially inoperable.

Valve has revised its privacy policies, updating its Steam client to provide users with the ability to hide what information is accessible to others such as owned games and the playtime behind them. "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". I can definitely see this as being useful for some and will be a welcome change when it arrives.

On the one hand, this is a good move by Valve to secure purchaser privacy. And - as Epic's Tim Sweeney points out in the comments under Galyonkin's tweet - no other retailer displays a consumer's entire purchase history by default. Unfortunately, it means that we'll have to rely on sales information from game publishers, and we know how loose they can be with the truth. (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.

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