Valve is tweaking how it reports Steam traffic to protect player privacy

The company said its privacy-first approach means devs will need to accept some trade-offs.

Valve is introducing new Steamworks tools that will affect how traffic data is presented to game developers on Steam.

The company said its new tools have been "built with player privacy in mind" and noted it's an approach that means trade-offs have been made that will limit how specific some reporting can be.

"In most cases, it simply means that any traffic sources that are below a threshold of volume will get reported as 'other.' We intentionally don't collect or store demographic information about users such as age, gender, or race," said Valve on the Steamworks blog.

Some of the most notable tweaks include updates to Steam's UTM systems, which help developers measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Steam's UTM changes

Changes to the system include an increased tracking percentage that can better gauge when players have followed a UTM link from a website and then hopped to their Steam desktop client to complete a transaction. "This conversion data will be reported in aggregate without disclosing any further personal information," noted Steam.

The UTM system will also soon include regional breakdowns for store page visitors, and will be capable of breaking out stats that allow devs to tell what percentage of visits are from new players versus returning users. The split of device types–"mobile" versus "desktop"–will also be reported for each campaign, letting devs tell how their audience is learning about their project.

Detailing another significant change, Valve said it plans to end Steam support for Google Analytics in July. "Google will no longer operate Universal Analytics (UA), which is a third-party traffic reporting system that we've had available for measuring traffic sources to Steam store pages. Their announced replacement will be a system called Google Analytics 4 (GA4)," wrote the company.

"As time has gone on we’ve come to realize that Google’s tracking solutions don't align well with our approach to customer privacy, and so with the migration to GA4 we’ve made the decision to end our support of Google's analytics systems on Steam. Instead, we're focused on building the most useful parts of aggregated reporting into Steam itself, as described above."

The news means that developers currently leveraging UA will notice their Google Analytics reporting will no longer collect any data from Steam from July onwards. For more information on the changes, check out the full explainer on the Steamworks blog.

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