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SteamSpy creator develops new algorithm to keep service alive

"It's still possible that Valve will make another move to shutdown the service, but until that happens, SteamSpy will continue to operate," says Galyonkin

SteamSpy has been given a new lease of life despite recent changes made by Valve to its Steam Web API, massively restricting the tool's access to useful data.

Earlier this month, Valve removed the data on owned games from users' profiles unless they actively opted-in, effectively closing off access to the most reliable information for estimating sales figures.

Using coincidental data on games -- most of which doesn't come from Steam -- SteamSpy creator Sergey Galyonkin has developed a new modified algorithm using machine learning.

While Galyonkin admits that the new algorithm is "not very accurate", he was able to come within ten per cent margin for the majority games tested, with only a few "crazy outliers".

"I will keep on iterating the new algorithm while slowly bringing back the core functions of SteamSpy," said Galyonkin in a recent blog post.

"It will take some time and it's still possible that Valve will make another move to shutdown the service, but until that happens, SteamSpy will continue to operate."

For the time being, Galyonkin has placed certain restrictions on access rights for those not supporting his work on Patreon.

"I did that because I'm still not entirely happy with my new algorithm and its precision, and also because a lot of things on SteamSpy are still broken," he said.

"I do believe in giving everyone the access to the essential information, but until I fix everything, SteamSpy will be semi-closed to the general audience."

When Valve announced that it was changing the Steam Web API, Galyonkin assumed it was simply to comply with the new GDPR legislation that comes into force on May 25.

However, he noted that Valve also changed its Store API making it "useless" to SteamSpy, and that the platform holder still hasn't updated its EULA to comply with the new legislation.

"I wrote a proposal to Valve that would still let SteamSpy run using the old algorithm without exposing any personal data," said Galyonkin. "I've got a confirmation from Tom Giardino that they've received my message, but that was it.

"To be honest, that was already more than they ever said to me before."

Galyonkin warned at the time that Valve's decision opened up the PC market to abuse once again. However, No More Robots director and veteran publisher Mike Rose argued that it wasn't as bad as it first seemed.

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Ivy Taylor avatar
Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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