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Steam Spy’s creator says its death will hurt indies but not triple-A


Sergey Galyonkin is the founder of Steam Spy, and this morning, he tweeted  that his service “won’t be able to operate” now that Steam users’ game libraries are hidden by default in a recent privacy initiative. We asked him what the death of his service will mean for the industry.

What do developers and publishers really think of Steam Spy? Last year, we asked them.

Galyonkin shares some concerns that we spotted in our look at Steam users’ reactions. In his view, the death of Steam Spy means “we’ll be back to the situation of information asymmetry, where small developers and publishers don’t know as much as the bigger companies that can afford to employ teams of analysts.”

From a consumer perspective, Galyonkin says “better privacy settings are good for consumers overall”, but takes issue with Valve’s execution in this particular case. He says they “chose to hide owned games while leaving sensitive personal information exposed by default.” The user’s real name is one such detail.

As Galyonkin points out, this makes Steam non-compliant with GDPR, a set of data protection laws passed by the EU which are due to come into effect imminently. Galyonkin also mentions the ongoing global scandal of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica as a possible factor in the timing of the announcement.

Galyonkin has been active on Twitter since the news dropped, offering his thoughts on various theories as to why Valve made this decision. He suggests there may be more going on than their official explanation, though he is sceptical that they caved to pressure from publishers. When we asked him, he simply answered: “no idea – Valve moves in mysterious ways.”

Ain’t that the truth. If you’re concerned about the future, we’re afraid Galyonkin’s prognosis is dim – he doesn’t see Valve rolling back the changes, and any reworked version of Steam Spy he might be able to make would be so inaccurate as to be worthless.

For his own part, Galyonkin has a day job (at Epic Games) so while he no doubt regrets the collapse of an influential side project, it’s hopefully not a financial disaster for him.