Months after the company effectively ended third-party Steam sales data tracking site Steam Spy by updating their privacy settings, Valve has announced it is working on a more accurate replacement for developers.
PCGamesN reports that at this week’s White Night game developer event in St. Petersburg, Russia, indie game developer Michael Kuzmin asked Valve’s Jan-Peter Ewert about whether the company was working on a way of getting sales data to developers. While Steam Spy was a third-party site whose accuracy was inconsistent, it allowed developers to make informed decisions about whether their particular kind of game could do well, who their biggest competitors were, and when the right time to release might be. While the numbers weren’t exact, it often gave important ballparks for developers to consider when marketing their game.
“Our general approach has been to provide open APIs so that when we don’t offer the amount of tools that we should, the community can step in, which allows things like Steamspy to happen,” Ewert responded. Valve had two problems with Steam Spy, however. The first was its lack of compliance with GDPR (a European set of guidelines that enforce data privacy) protocols. The second was that Steam Spy “had a broad variance in how accurate it was,” Ewert said. “It was very accurate for some games, it was very inaccurate for a few others.”
To fix the issue, the company announced it is working on something better than Steam Spy, since anything that helps developers market and sell their games can only help Steam. “The only way that we make money is if [developers] make good decisions in bringing the right games to the platform and finding your audience,” Ewert said. “So yes, we are very much working on new tools and new ways of getting data out of Steam, and we hope that data can be more accurate and more useful than what Steam Spy previously offered.”
One thing that’s immediately worth noting here is that there’s a good chance the public will likely never see these numbers directly, considering GDPR protocols. More likely, these newer, more accurate numbers will be shared for developers for decision-making purposes, but the average user will likely not have access to them. Valve’s knack of letting their community build on their foundation might point toward a more open platform, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up in this case. Still, developers (particularly smaller ones) need these numbers the most, so hopefully Valve is able to put these tools together before long.