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One of the most valuable resources online when it comes to measuring PC video game sales on Steam is Steam Spy. The service allows anyone to view ownership and engagement data for games released on Steam. Well, following a recent update, Steam Spy is practically useless.
Eurogamer is reporting that the creator of the tool, Sergey Galyonkin, has confirmed that Steam Spy is no longer the powerful resource that it used to be. While the data collected so far is still relevant for everything up until around April 10th, 2018, it'll no longer be as useful as it once was due to the April 10th update that Valve rolled out for Steam.
The update to Steam basically changes the privacy settings for the client. All user games are now hidden behind a privacy toggle. This is likely something that a lot of gamers are pleased about because it's something that they've been asking for from Valve for years. Not everyone wants every game in their library broadcast to the public.
With the newest update, those privacy options are now enabled so you can actually maintain your privacy. However, this also had the averse effect of rendering Steam Spy practically useless, since it relied on publicly available ownership data in order to report sales figures (or at least, sales approximations). With the privacy option in effect, the margin of error is now too large to be reliable and Galyonkin informed Eurogamer that it's not going to be much use going forward.
He has, however, continued to work on a version for his own private use, but it won't be much good for websites, reports, or making broad estimations of game sales on Steam.
In the past, some developers actually did contact Galyonkin to hide their game ownership data, because the gaming industry does not like to broadcast sales data at all.
If it weren't for Steam Spy most of the general public would have no idea how well games sell at all, other than general stats released by marketing firms.
This basically means that if you want to check on the performance of a game, you won't be able to do so.... that is, unless a company releases that data publicly.
Is it possible that another version of Steam Spy might pop up in the near future? Possibly, but for now it appears as if it's going to be sidelined due to Steam's new update. The one thing that a lot of people were a bit miffed about was that the update doesn't even hide the most obvious sensitive data on a user's profile. Some however, believe this is a first step from Valve to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation set to go live in Europe this May. But, given Valve's reticence, we actually have no real clue as to why the company now decided to make the change and cripple Steam Spy's functionality.