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Valve quickly shuts down developer method for estimating Steam sales

Steam API suddenly altered after The End Is Nigh co-dev uses achievements data as SteamSpy alternative

Valve seems determined to protect sales data from its leading games marketplace as a developer's suggestion on how to estimate such figures has swiftly been thwarted.

Tyler Glaiel, who co-developed titles such as The End Is Night and Closure, proposed a new method via a Medium post that uses achievements to work out the minimum number of sales a game has achieved.

The theory is that if 50 per cent of players has unlocked an achievement, that means at least two people are play, 33 per cent means at least three and so on. This, in itself, isn't overly useful but Glaiel observed that the 16 decimal places of data offered through the Steam API gave a more accurate view - reportedly even more accurate than SteamSpy.

However, Steamed reports the API has quietly been updated to round up these numbers, thus removing that accuracy and rendering Glaiel's method useless. The Medium post was published on June 29th, meaning this change has come within a week of the developer sharing his findings.

Valve has yet to comment, but developers are decrying this on Twitter as a blatant move to cut them off from useful sales data. They also argue it casts further shade on Valve's explanation of how GDPR regulations affected the statistics that previously fed widely-used service SteamSpy.

SteamSpy was rendered ineffective back in April and many developers have been desperate for an alternative ever since. At the time, SteamSpy operator Sergey Galyonkin warned that Valve's actions opened the PC market to abuse.

There are some that believe access to such data isn't as important as developers might think, as No More Robots founder Mike Rose argued shortly after SteamSpy was blocked. Nevertheless, Galyonkin quickly developed a new algorthim, although warned it's not as accurate as his previous method.

Around the same time that Glaiel published his method, Valve revealed it is working on an alternative, "better" version of SteamSpy to help companies that use its platform, with business development head Jan-Peter Ewert adding: "The only way we make money is if you make good decisions in bringing the right games to the platform, and finding your audience

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was