Steam Spy, which collates data on Steam game ownership and play, released a statement on its Twitter feed saying: "Valve just made a change to their privacy settings, making games owned by Steam users hidden by default. Additionally, regardless of which setting you choose for your profile's game details, you now have the option to keep your total game playtime private". With more detailed descriptions of what profile information is included in each category, you will be able to manage how you are viewed by your friends, or the wider Steam Community. While it's a win for user privacy on Steam, it unfortunately also means an important and helpful tool will no longer be up and running in the future.
Valve will also be implementing the "invisible" mode which will allow you to go invisible while using Steam. Once a user sets their presence to invisible, they will still be able to access the friends list and use Steam chat, but they will appear as offline to outside users. This was a very useful tool to gauge how much interest certain gaming titles have received over time but with the new privacy settings, data can not be easily scraped as it once was. With the changes Valve has introduced, however, it's not going to be around anymore - it won't be able to grab said information by default anymore.
According to Steam Spy, this isn't a particularly great move for the company as the tracking site is effectively useless without the information being available by default. On Twitter, Sergey Galyonkin stated the site would be shutting down due to Valve making everyone's Steam game library hidden by default as part of the new privacy settings.
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Users can reverse the new default settings, but we suspect people will probably not think to do that unless prompted, even though Steam Spy is a popular tool.
This will basically stop snooping on people's profiles to note that they've put literal days into near-addictive games like Dota 2. And - as Epic's Tim Sweeney points out in the comments under Galyonkin's tweet - no other retailer displays a consumer's entire purchase history by default.
Let us know your thoughts on the sudden privacy changes on Steam.