Steam Hardware and Software Survey

1st September 2010

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

So, for whatever reason, Steam asked me if I wanted to participate in their survey. Being a kind and helpful person by nature I clicked YES.

Answered the few questions it asked about connection speed and microphone and then clicked next. Off it went to collect my system’s specs and all was fine until I decided to scroll down through the list to see what I had.

Low and behold there is a huge list of all the software I have installed on this machine. Shouldn’t be too much of a shock since it’s called the “Hardware and Software Survey“. But it just seems a litttle cheeky to me. You could argue that I shouldn’t have anything to hide but what do they need to know what other software I have for?

Knowing my OS must be useful and of course all the hardware specs help them build better games, but the rest? I find it hard to believe it is anything other than marketing requirements.

At this point I cancelled the survey, maybe there was an option to remove the software part but I was seeing too much RED to worry about it.

Is anybody else a little annoyed with this?


  1. Shadowmancer471

    It can be seen as quite worrying on just how easy it is to access information stored on a computer from a 3rd party source. Since we have a lot of important credentials (bank account details etc), how long will it be before our privacy is compromised.
    if a simple steam survey can call up an entire list of software with one click, imagine what else could be called up simply at the whim of the client studying your computer, all done without you ever knowing.
    With both this, and the upcoming ACTA movement, it is beginning to look like privacy online is going to become a thing of the past.

    1. Bramblepath

      Doubtlessly, there are always ways to prevent your information from being accessed by applications, but they’re probably not for the average user. You raise a valid point, though, and this is something that needs to be addressed.

      Thankfully, most of our information is safe online due to secure servers and what-not.

  2. Bramblepath

    I honestly have no problem with it. Yes, it may seem pointless. But then, this is Valve we’re talking about: in my opinion, the most honest and trustworthy organisation out there. I don’t mind giving them my information, because I trust them with it. If this was a different company, I’d definitely think twice.

  3. AI

    Hmmmm, I’ve taken that survey before and never been scanned for software, only for specs! I wonder what they are up to?? It’s NONE of their bussiness, other than specs, what’s on anyones rig!! ;-p

  4. Neuromante

    Never passed one of those surveys, nor when it was only a hardware survey, nor now, with that extra data mining.
    And I must admit its not for the privacy topic (althought its a important topic). If you want information, PAY for it.

    Also, I don’t like that kind of surveys. It’s like if Mr.Newell were looking through my window.

  5. Dragonsbrethren

    Just a hunch, the software list is probably the same one that pops up when you choose to add a non-Steam game shortcut to the client. If that’s the case, the information is actually important to Valve: The Steam overlay is available in non-Steam games, and some games have issues with it. If a lot of people have that game installed, it’s probably worth adding a fix to the overlay for that game. I’ve never reported it, since I’m fairly certain it’s just the game itself doing something weird, but I have one game here that I can’t use the overlay with since the game is never redrawn properly after closing it, only the parts of the screen that change get redrawn.

    In any event, this isn’t really an invasion of privacy or anything. It’s not like it’s scanning every single file on your PC. It’s just getting the list from the Steam client, which itself got it from Windows directly, something plenty of other programs do.

    1. That’s actually a good point about compatibility issues, but that should be tackled via the support system. In my case, it’s not the same list at all, because the one in the survey list had a significantly longer list than via the “Add” option in Steam.

  6. CubicVirtuoso

    I absolutely love the hardware/software surveys. They give me an idea on what’s popular and how behind I am in certain technologies. I think you’re ranting about some very minuscule, that’s why they asked you first before taking the survey.

    I do find it hilarious though that they keep Steam in the list of installed applications… of course steam will be installed… durgh

    1. So you check their survey page to see what software you should be using. Is that what you are saying?

  7. So they do. They’ll not be doing that to me.
    This is very silly of them. They need to know hardware spec’s but many will be turned off by having their software examined.

  8. I think that much more good can come from this than bad. I bet they’re just looking for patterns, and valve even says that you’re kept anonymous when you take the survey, and unless you think they’re lying, I don’t see why you would have a problem with this.

    like maybe they want to see how many people have ventrillo installed, if like 80% of people who play l4d or l4d2 have ventrillo installed, then maybe valve will explore uniting ventrillo with steam, or improving the in steam voice communication features. This is just an example of course, but I think that this may lead to some very useful features/improvements in the future.

  9. Zekiran

    I’m one of those people who like it when my buying habits are in fact tracked. Particularly for food items, but also software and hardware. Why?

    I like the people producing those same things to know that they’ve got buyers. I haven’t seen a SURVEY about this for Steam, but I have done their analysis which I guess may be what you’re referring to.

    Also, it gives me an idea of what I should be removing off my hard drive, for space concerns, without having to open up hijack or my control panel 😉

  10. Pyro

    Oh, no! They know something totally pointless about me! I feel so violated!

    Get a grip. There’s nothing remotely invasive about this, because there’s no point to this information.

  11. Dias

    I think you’ll find yesterday’s Dilbert comic quite relevant:

    1. Zekiran

      THAT was funny. 😀

  12. Pedro The Swift

    I’d give them my the number to my wife’s chastity belt if they just released EP3.

    1. Hec

      jaja, lol, hope they better hurry whit that episode it’s been too much waiting, hope it is not in vain!!!!1

  13. Berrie

    They probably have a statistician with free reign over there. They love those kind of things.

  14. Hec

    I think it’s importtant just to they conssider the video hardware, to keep in mind those video card requirements for further game developing and nothing else, if they know more than that, well it is risky, we live now in a dangerous world, and we’re exposed to many security thretens in the web, and in the rest of techonollogy………

  15. I don’t really like them tracking everything. Valve needs to know my hardware specs, that’s fine. But as for what software I have installed, it’s none of their business. I don’t know if I really care that they have the info, except that they don’t need to know it–and they know more about me than I care for them to. (I could simply not load Steam, but there are too many mods to test still for that to be practical.)

    Valve article/announcement:

  16. b1k3rdude

    As usual Valve are exceeding their mandate, or maybe Gabe is being his greedy fat self and thinking other ways to siphon money from valves ever shrinking user base..

  17. Well if you buy things on line you should do it from a dummy account. One that only has what you are going to spend in it at the time you are buying it. They can even be at the same institution.

    Steam has NO business asking or knowing what “other” software. I’m sure they say its for possible software conflict issues, But they ain’t gettin it here.

    I learned early on that places you have to give your e-mail address to, tend to sell you. You wind up on the strangest lyrises. I found a tracking trick. mispell your name give different names even. See what pops up where.. There are companies out there who actually think some guy named Dusty Lions lives at my I get snail mail for the schmuck!

    If its going come down to giving the real info to steam vs not being able to use steam… I’m done with them. I’ll delete all of it and find some thing new…. Love the beaches from mid to SoCal during the winter months..The high Unitas during the summer months.. I’ll just go back out side.

  18. Musterfox

    I agree with you 100% Phillip. I did the same exact thing.

    I don’t agree with views like “Valve is doing it for the good of the community” or “its anonymous so it doesn’t matter”. It may not matter to some people which is fine for them. Go right ahead.

    I have always taken part in all earlier Valve surveys because I can see how they can be useful – both to Valve and to end users. I found their new survey very intrusive. Why do they want to know what Firewall and Antivirus I use? Its none of their business.

    I have no problem with their probing what OS I use or what Audio/Video drivers are installed but beyond that I am reluctant to part with any info regarding the software installed on my system. No, I don’t have anything to hide per se – I just don’t see how its any of their business.

  19. Hamguy

    are you all seriuos? they are a game company, hey have no buisness or right to know what software you have on your computer except stea and all the games you have, even hardware is fine,but software is too much, they could be collecting data without even telling you about it in the background. I think this is all about piracy, you idiots who put all your trust in a company I laugh you, if a company has been great since the start what says they will never turn there back on you? Money speaks in the corporate world.

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