Today, Valve Software announced a big improvement to Steam’s privacy settings to increase user privacy for all Steam users.

Steam users can now choose who has access to their profile, game information, and inventory. Still, the most crucial component of the statement is one Valve did not mention explicitly: all Steam profiles have been changed to “friends only” visibility.

While this is unquestionably good for privacy, it does mean that services like Steam Spy, which used public data to generate top rankings based on sales, playtime, and other metrics, will no longer function.

Most Steam users will not need to adjust their privacy settings because they are set to default, but some may. You can still alter the visibility to public or private, as well as make other changes.

Modify your Steam privacy settings

You won’t find such options in Steam’s preferences, so it’s not immediately obvious how to change your privacy settings.

The following is a step-by-step guide to getting there:

On your computer, launch the Steam client.
If you are not immediately logged in, sign in to your Steam account.
Select “View My Profile” from the profile name in the upper right corner of the screen.
On the next screen, click “Edit Profile.”
On the profile page, go to “My Privacy Settings.”

There are the following alternatives available:

Change the Steam profile’s visibility (default: Friends Only)
The visibility of Game Details can be changed (default: Friends Only)
Always keep the total amount of time spent playing privately.
Change your friend’s list (by default, it’s only visible to friends).
Change the Inventory’s visibility (default: Friends-only)
Steam Gifts should always be kept private.
Decide who is allowed to leave comments on the profile (default: Friends-only)

You have the option of making the visibility public or private. The appearance of “My Profile” has an impact on other settings. When you set it to private, all other options are also set to private. The visibility setting of game details and inventory remains set to friends only if the profile’s visibility is set to public.

“Your community profile includes a summary of your profile, a list of friends, badges, your Steam Level, showcases, comments, and group participation.”

Information on the game: “This category contains a list of all of the games on your Steam account, as well as games you’ve wishlisted, achievements, and playtime. This option also determines whether you are seen as “in-game” and the game title you are playing.”

“Who can view your list of friends on your Steam community profile is controlled by this.”

Stockpile: “Items you’ve received in Steam Trading games are included in your inventory. It also contains any Steam Trading Cards you’ve amassed, as well as any extra copies or Steam Gifts.”

Two settings cannot be modified. The visibility of workshop items and screenshots is configurable per item, while basic details such as the profile name and avatar remain available.

Valve has revealed that it is working on a new profile invisibility option that shows the user as offline to others without affecting chat or other features.

Final Thoughts

Due to the visibility limits, third parties are no longer able to pull data from Steam profiles. While it’s unfortunate that it affects important services like Steam Spy, it’s good for users.

The option to make the profile private and the option to hide particular game sessions are both nice additions. With the press of a button, you can now hide the fact that you spent thousands of hours playing HuniePop, Deep Space Waifu, or Crush Crush.