Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Steam's Privacy Changes Spell Doom for SteamSpy Tool

Steam's Privacy Changes Spell Doom for SteamSpy Tool

Valve announced on Tuesday, April 10, that it had updated the privacy settings of Steam users by giving them control over how their information is displayed on the digital distribution platform. Thanks to a series of user privacy settings brought into motion by Steam, the very fabric of the game streaming platform that SteamSpy utilized to harvest its valuable data has been obliterated.

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.

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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.

Creator Sergey Galyonkin took to Twitter to voice his own concerns about Valve's changes, stating that "Steam Spy relied on [game details] information being visible by default and won't be able to operate anymore". 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". Such changes are a welcome adjustment to overall user privacy, but there's a price to be paid for them. It's because Steam made everyone's gaming library hidden by default, which Valve failed to mention in its announcement.

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If you play games on PC you've likely signed up for a Steam account. 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. PCGamesN spoke to other devs about the changes; the apparently near-universal opinion was that the loss of the service will impact them as well. 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. Opting in to share data is much better than sneakily implementing the option to opt out of it, but never really realise just how much of your data is being sucked up by both first and third-party companies.

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