Valve made a big change to user privacy settings on Steam that, among other things, will render one of the most useful data tools inoperable.
That being Steam Spy, the analytics site useful for determining the number of owners for any given game, and plenty of other very helpful, usually hidden, statistics and insights about them.
In a blog post, Valve revealed several key changes that are supposed to enhance Steam users' control over their privacy. Each category in the profile privacy settings page now offers more details about what it is and what it does.
The game details section is the one that controls who can see the games you own or have wishlisted. You can limit it to only show this information to friends, or keep it private. You can also prevent others from seeing your playtime regardless of whether or not they can see your library.
By default, your game library is no longer public. This is what Steam Spy relied on to generate its data, which means it'll no longer be able to do what it's been doing for years.
Creator Sergey Galyonkin shared his opinion about the changes on Twitter. "Steam Spy relied on [game details] information being visible by default and won't be able to operate anymore," he announced on Twitter.
Valve curiously didn't spill out this particular change in its blog post, but even if it allowed users to set this option to 'public', the data won't be enough to get a complete or near-complete picture.
Valve is also working on a new invisible mode to accompany the currently available 'online', 'away', and 'offline' statuses.
Invisible mode allows Steam users to enjoy the benefits of being online like seeing their friends list, and sending and receiving messages, without having to go online and be seen by others. This new mode does not yet have a release date.
News of Steam Spy's demise is definitely disappointing. Having a record of one's Steam library available to the public (the horror!) was a small price to pay for any semblance of transparency in an industry that avoids it like the plague.