Valve Software announced a major change to privacy settings on Steam today that improves user privacy for all users of the gaming platform.
Steam users may select now who has got access to their profile, game details and inventory but the most important part of the announcement is one that Valve did not mention explicitly; the company switched the visibility of all Steam profiles to "friends only".
While that is without a doubt great for privacy, it does mean that useful services such as Steam Spy will not work anymore as they used the public data to populate top lists by sales, play time and other stats.
Most Steam users may have no need to change privacy settings thanks to the default but some may. It is still possible to change the visibility to public or private, and make other modifications.
Change Steam Privacy Settings
It may not be clear right away how to make privacy modifications on Steam as you won't find those options in the preferences.
Here is how you get there:
- Start the Steam client on your computer.
- Sign in to the Steam account if you are not logged in automatically.
- Click on the profile name in the upper right corner of the screen and select "View Profile".
- Switch to "My Privacy Settings" on the profile page.
The following options are provided there:
- Change the visibility of the Steam profile (default: Friends Only)
- Change the visibility of Game details (default: Friends Only)
- Always keep the total playtime private.
- Change the visibility of the Inventory (default: Friends only)
- Always keep Steam Gifts private.
- Decide who can post comments on the profile (default: Friends only)
You can set the visibility to public, friends only or private. The "My Profile" visibility setting impacts other settings. If you set it to private, all other settings are set to private as well. If you set the profile's visibility to public, the visibility setting of game details and inventory remains set to friends only.
My Profile: "Your community profile includes your profile summary, friends list, badges, Steam Level, showcases, comments, and group membership."
Game Details: "This category includes the list of all games on your Steam account, games you’ve wishlisted, your achievements and your playtime. This setting also controls whether you’re seen as "in-game" and the title of the game you are playing."
Inventory: "Your inventory includes items you've received in games that use Steam Trading. It also includes any Steam Trading Cards you've collected and extra copies or Steam Gifts."
Two options cannot be changed. Basic details such as the profile name and avatar remain public, and the visibility of workshop items and screenshots remains set to per-item.
Valve noted that it is working on a new invisibility mode for profiles which shows the user as offline to others without impacting messaging or other functionality.
Third-parties cannot pull date from Steam profiles anymore thanks to the visibility restrictions. While it is sad that it impacts useful services such as Steam Spy, it is beneficial to users.
The option to set the profile to private is welcome and as is the option to hide individual game playtime. If you want to hide the fact that you wasted thousands of hours playing HuniePop, Deep Space Waifu or Crush Crush, you can do that now with the click of a button.
Now You: Do you use Steam or other gaming platforms?