Valve's Steam gaming platform drops Google Analytics to improve privacy
Valve Software announced a major change coming to its Steam gaming platform regarding privacy and the reporting of data to game developers.
Steam developers get access to aggregated data "on overall traffic to store pages" and "external sourced traffic".
The changes to the reporting will roll out over the course of the next months and focus on three main areas:
- Dropping support for Google Analytics.
- Improving data and features of Valve's Store & Steam Platform Traffic reporting.
- Internal updates to "improve measurement of conversions to wishlist, purchase and activation actions on Steam.
Valve notes that all internal tools have been built with player privacy in mind. The platform will continue to protect personally identifiable information of its users, but admits that this has trade-offs, including that reporting is limited.
End of support for Google Analytics on Steam
Steam won't support Google Analytics anymore starting July 1st, 2023. Valve points out that Google's tracking solution does not align well with its approach to customer privacy.
Google switches Analytics from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 in July, which gave Valve another reason to drop support, as it does not have to migrate systems to the new tracking system.
Valve will integrate important parts of aggregated reporting directly into Steam to reduce Steam's reliance on third-party solutions.
The new system will improve Steam's internal reporting of aggregated data. Steam is providing traffic reports to developers already, but these will be improved in the coming months with the following improvements:
- Traffic reporting will soon offer geographic information. The information reveals the regions from where visitors to a Steam store page came. Valve notes that this may be useful to determine language support and other language related features, such as support.
- Improved identification of external sources by providing more details on common domains.
Steam's UTM system, used to measure marketing campaigns, will receive updates as well in the coming months.
- Increased tracking percentage -- for cases when players follow links from websites and land on the Steam desktop client to complete the transaction.
- One-day conversion tracking -- speedier conversion tracking reporting.
- Geographic breakdown -- as mentioned above.
- Visitor device category -- the device type, desktop or mobile, will be reported.
- New vs. Returning -- breaks down stats so that developers now the number of new players and returning players to their games.