Steam Spy showers us in glorious data

Steam Spy

There's a new tool for those of us who want to mine Steam for all the data that interests us - Steam Spy. Created by Sergey Galyonkin, the tool allows users to check the popularity, playerbase, sales data and more from games available on Steam.

It is by Galyonkin's own admission an imperfect tool, but Steam Spy is nonetheless producing accurate data in the most part, according to the developers he has spoken with. The tool gets data from around 100,000 'valid' (i.e. not empty/dead) profiles per day, as Galyonkin told Polygon, updating its stats regularly to keep up with what's going on in the world's biggest digital games storefront.

Galyonkin takes into account a margin for error with the data his tool presents, equating it to how political surveys work: "Your usual political surveys are pretty correct mostly because you don't have much choice," he said, "It's going to be candidate A, B or maybe C in some countries, so a margin of error less than 0.1% should be good enough.

"It doesn't work this way with Steam. Imagine users as voters, but instead of voting for one of three candidates, they're voting for several games from tens of thousands available in Steam catalog. Even the most popular paid games are reaching maybe 5% of this audience and most are in realms of 0.1% or even less.

"So 0.1% margin of error for a game with 0.1% of Steam audience would produce results that are mostly useless. That's why Steam Spy has to gather millions of points of data daily to predict games sales and audience. And that's why Steam Spy is often wrong. Not by much, but still wrong."

Having said that, this Tweet from Tripwire Interactive's president, John Gibson, shows that the 'not by much' comment should be taken with a rather large pinch of salt. A pinch of salt big enough to cover a million units.

So, with that acknowledgement in mind - and the margins for error put right in front of you - go forth and have fun with glorious data.


I've had a trawl through some of the stats and picked out some interesting little snippets - please do add your own in the comments, there's a lot of delicious data to play with!

While Dota 2 is the most-played game of the last two weeks worldwide, it doesn't even hit the top 10 in the UK or US, instead landing at numbers 22 and 18, respectively.

2011's most popular game was also its highest rated, with Portal 2 owned by around 6.4 million people and bagging a Metacritic rating of 95%, with a user rating of 99%.

The average playtime for the rather fantastic Euro Truck Simulator 2 clocks in at 41 hours and 48 minutes, with the median hitting 12 hours, 35 minutes. Which isn't that surprising.

Sticking with playtime, because I have it running in the background right now, Football Manager 2015's average is 191 hours and 8 minutes, while the median is a still quite frankly insane 99 hours 27 minutes.

And a third and final one for playtime, because it just made me go 'huh?' aloud: Atlantica has a median of 7 hours in total, but an average of... umm... 298 hours, 18 minutes. What?

Anyway, take all of these with the aforementioned pinch of salt - Steam Spy is an imperfect measuring tool that's getting a fair few things wrong or at least a bit off. It's still fun, though.