SteamSpy creator Sergey Galyonkin has decided to stop honoring developer removal requests for data on the service. Previously, if a developer or publisher requested that their games not be listed on SteamSpy, Galyonkin would remove those titles from the search results. Today, he noted that developer Techland wanted its data removed and decided to ultimately put all the data back up on the site.
So, let's see what happens if I restore all the removed games at Steam Spy.— Steam Spy (@Steam_Spy) August 25, 2016
"Techland requested the removal of their games as well. Should I just stop honoring these requests?" asked Galyonkin in a tweet. "I believe in building a tool that is useful for the game developers. In the last 1.5 years there were no incidents where developer was hurt because of his data being exposed on Steam Spy. So, let's see what happens if I restore all the removed games at Steam Spy."
SteamSpy does not have specific sales numbers for each game. Instead, the service crawls public user profiles and notes which games they own. It's an estimate, not an exact number, hence the listed deviations on each search result. Galyonkin has also noted that the given owners number has little to do with sales, as SteamSpy does not keep track of pricing.
"Steam Spy estimates data like polls estimate the number of people that would vote for a candidate. It's not legally binding to anyone," said Galyonkin. "The fact that movie industry hasn't collapsed despite releasing box office numbers gives me faith that games industry will survive as well."
Publishers and developers have quibbled with SteamSpy data in the past. Kerbal Space Program developer Squad and publisher Paradox Interactive have publically been noted as asking to have their data be removed. Paradox Interactive vice president of business development Shams Jorjani has previously called the SteamSpy data "wildly off".
"I've met countless devs that have showed me flawed business plans hinging entirely on the 'owners' figure reported by Steamspy on competitors," said Jorjani on Twitter previously.
Galyonkin now disagrees with the ability and reasoning for developers or publishers to dictate the use of SteamSpy data. He doubled down on the comparison to politics in a quote to Polygon.
"Imagine if Trump would ask everyone to stop publishing polls because they make him look bad and diminish his negotiating power," he said. "And honestly, if you believe your bargaining power lies in the ability to lie about your games data, you don't understand negotiations. So, while I would like to avoid being sued by publishers for estimating the number of their games owners, I don't believe they have a case here."