Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Tech | By

After 14 years, Steam finally gets some decent privacy settings

After 14 years, Steam finally gets some decent privacy settings

Mark Zuckerberg is now in his second day of Congressional testimony related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and new European Union privacy laws are set to take effect next month.

Earlier this week, Valve announced that it was updating Steam with new privacy settings that were supposed to help gamers keep more information to themselves. Unfortunately, one side effect of these changes means the end of the Steam Spy service. It also adds control over who can see details on the game you've played. 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. In Valve's own words, this is so that "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". A post issued late Tuesday also said that Valve's planning on implementing a new presence mode that would allow users to be invisible while still staying online. Such changes are a welcome adjustment to overall user privacy, but there's a price to be paid for them.

Steam Spy has been quite useful if you're in the business of reporting on video games.


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.

On Twitter, Galyonkin also suggested that if Valve really wanted to protect their users' privacy they would have hidden the profiles' information first and foremost, but that's still public for now. 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. Unless Valve makes a change to this new Steam behavior, it seems that we'll be saying goodbye to Steam Spy, as it collected data by polling once publicly-accessible user libraries. Developers apparently used Steam Spy data to gauge how well titles that catered to specific niches performed over time.

Steam Spy will be archived, according to creator Sergey Galyonkin.

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