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Steam Spy Returns, But Not Really: Here’s What Changed With The Sales Tracker For PC Games


Steam Spy was shut down because of new Steam privacy policies that made it impossible for the website to make accurate PC game sales predictions. The service is now back, but certainly not better than before.  ( Steam Spy | Twitter )

Steam Spy, the sales tracker for PC games, is apparently not dead, but it will be different after the changes to Steam privacy policies.

Sergey Galyonkin, the creator of Steam Spy, presumed that the website was dead after the release of a recent Steam update. Galyonkin has now explained what is going on with Steam Spy, and how it will function moving forward.

What Happened To Steam Spy?

Valve made certain changes to the privacy settings of Steam earlier this month, giving users control over how the digital distribution platform displays their information. One of the effects of the changes is that, by default, the games, which Steam users have purchased are hidden.

Hours after the announcement of the Steam privacy settings update, Steam Spy revealed that it was closing down. It is because the website relied on information that was acquired from Steam profiles. With the data being hidden by default, Steam Spy would not be able to accurately estimate how many Steam users purchased specific titles.

Some developers and Steam users were apparently disappointed with the shutdown of Steam Spy. Developers were using the information from the website to estimate the success of Steam games. Users were also visiting the website to help them decide whether a title on Steam was worth picking up or not, based on how well it is selling.

Meanwhile, other developers were not sad to see Steam Spy go as the website was exposing the purchase history of Steam users. It was also branded as an “unreliable” service, which meant that it may be doing more harm than good.

Steam Spy Still Alive, But Different

Unfortunately for the people who do not like Steam Spy around, the website has risen from the ashes, though much different from how it functioned in the past.

In a blog post, Galyonkin said that he wrote to Valve to ask if it was possible for Steam Spy to continue running using the old algorithm, without exposing personal data. Valve, after confirming the receipt of the message, never got back to Galyonkin.

Galyonkin, however, decided to push through with Steam Spy after receiving more than 200 e-mails from developers whom Steam Spy helped. However, it was obvious that changes were needed for the website to keep running.

Instead of acquiring information from Steam profiles, Steam Spy now uses machine learning to predict the sales of PC games based on coincidental data. According to Galyonkin, the change is somewhat effective. As an example, he said that the new Steam Spy algorithm predicted sales of 252,000 copies for Frostpunk, just as its developers announced sales reaching 250,000 units.

However, Galyonkin admitted that Steam Spy will not work like before. The website’s basic features of predicting sales numbers, assessing playtime distribution, and showing related games are back online.

Galyonkin said that he is not yet happy with the accuracy of the new Steam Spy. However, he will keep working on the website to improve its machine learning capabilities and to bring back its core functions.

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