Steam Spy has been, up until recent privacy changes rendered the service unreliable, a useful tool in some cases for developers to keep an eye on the ebb and flow of digital sales on Steam, but Valve wants to offer developers “something better.”
Speaking at White Nights in St. Petersburg this past week, Valve’s head of business development Jan-Peter Ewert addressed the topic in response to a question from indie dev Michael Kuzmin about Valve’s take on Steam Spy’s utility.
In short, Ewert notes that Valve is “working on new tools and new ways of getting data out of Steam” and hopes that the data provided by the company’s own tools “can be more accurate and more useful than what Steam Spy previously offered” developers.
“Our general approach has always been to provide open APIs so that when we don't offer the amount of tools that we should, the community can step in,” explains Ewert. Steam Spy filled this gap originally until privacy changes on Valve’s end prevented the third-party tool from gathering the data it used to make its estimations.
Steam Spy was taken offline following those changes at first, and was later brought back online, albeit in a less accurate form and with a different algorithm at its sails. But even the original incarnation of Steam Spy left some things to be desired, as Ewert points out, since the service “had a broad variance in how accurate it was,” with that accuracy differing from game to game.
"So, to be clear, we don't have a business selling iPhones,” said Ewert, explaining why both developers and Valve benefits from analytical tools in the vein of Steam Spy. “The only way we make money is if you make good decisions in bringing the right games to the platform, and finding your audience.”