Recently, Steam Spy made the decision to change their policy regarding removing games at developer request. This happened as a consequence of Techland (Dying Light, Dead Island) requesting that their games be removed, becoming the second "large" company to do so after Paradox Interactive did earlier this year. Feeling that it was not in the best interest of users and the industry as a whole, Steam Spy creator Sergey Galyonkin made a decision to end the removal of games from Steam Spy and reversed his decision on previous games he had removed.
The decision, while widely reported on, appeared to largely go without much in the way of controversy overall. That was until this morning when Game Informer's Mike Futter began a discussion on Twitter with the following tweet:
The discussion continued from there with Sergey mentioning that advertising that fact could also put them in danger, if the visibility did indeed put them in danger, as Squad has indicated before that they feared their safety and prompted the request. Sergey confirmed in our interview that was indeed what Squad had told him.
Most of the discussion can basically be summed up in the following tweets:
UMG's Kevin Dent chimed in around this time, discussing some of the financial implications of posting the numbers, and the fact that posting numbers of publicly trading companies (such as Paradox) can have particular rules and disclosure requirements. Sergey reiterated that Steam Spy is not a financial data tool and has no financial data in it. Steam Spy doesn't report on purchases, nor at the price they are made, which makes any attempt to use it for financial data a case of guesswork that has to be done using other sources and a high margin of error.
One thing that got a lot of interest from people following the situation was Sergey's comment that TechLand and Paradox had abused the system. There was also discussion here if there had been conditions of being removed, particularly inquired by Kevin Dent. As for why Sergey felt it was abuse, I inquired further about that in our interview below.
All of this was surrounded by other people talking and brought a lot of questions up: should Steam Spy honor removal requests, what changed Sergey's mind about the situation, and what did he think about this latest "controversy"? To find out more, we reached out to Sergey to talk about the situation, as well as some of the statistics and methodology Steam Spy uses.
If you want to find the talk Sergey mentioned in the video, there is a written version using the same ideas over on his medium blog entitled "Understanding your game through data." The podcast referenced, which is in Russian and thus incomprehensible to me, is available here.
What do you think of this situation? Do you think Sergey was right to restore games or did he put developers at risk? Do you use Steam Spy, and if so, what for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!