Developing: Epic Games Launcher appears to collect your steam friends & play history (Up2: Valve responds, See Threadmarks)

Madjoki

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,278
So this comes originaly from Reddit, I found out via lashman Metacounil post.
(This is not endorsement of those findings)

But I tried to replicate those and found out that Epic Games Launcher on start up searches for Steam install
and proceeds to get list of files in your Steam Cloud (this includes mostly game saves for every user that has logged in on your PC)

Steam Cloud is stored under userdata\[account id]\ if you wanna check

It will also create encrypted copy of config\localconfig.vdf.
This file contains your steam friends, their name history (groups you're part of, are considered "friends").

It seems friends might be used for friends suggestions, but I don't even use that feature and it collects more than that.

While it's called "localhistory" it is synced from cloud

It will read, encrypt and then write copy to: C:\ProgramData\Epic\SocialBackup\RANDOM HEX CODE_STEAM ACCOUNT ID.bak
It will also keep historical entries there.

As for contents of file:

Example of friends entry:



Play history, will contain last playtime



300 = Day of Defeat

Code:
"300"
                    {
                        "LastPlayed"        "1384125348"
                    }
(1384125348 is unix timestamp near end of 2013). Apparently I have played this then.

To replicate these findings you can use Microsofts Process Explorer:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/process-explorer

To replicate these findings you can use Microsofts Process Monitor:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/procmon

It's recommended to add filter: "ProcessName is EpicGamesLauncher.exe" otherwise there will be tons of crap. Also you can set Drop Filtered events to save on memory.

First step is finding out where Steam is:



Then it will enumerate everything in Steam Cloud.

It doesn't seem to read anything, but just names of all your saves of games



Then it will read localconfig.vdf



after it's done:



42834588 = steam account id

76561197960265728 + account id = steam id = 76561198003100316 (this is my account)


Update: Epic Games Response

We use a tracking pixel (tracking.js) for our Support-A-Creator program so we can pay creators. We also track page statistics.

The launcher sends a hardware survey (CPU, GPU, and the like) at a regular interval as outlined in our privacy policy(see the “Information We Collect or Receive” section). You can find the code here.

The UDP traffic highlighted in this post is a launcher feature for communication with the Unreal Editor. The source of the underlying system is available on github.

The majority of the launcher UI is implemented using web technology that is being rendered by Chromium (which is open source). The root certificate and cookie access mentioned above is a result of normal web browser start up.

The launcher scans your active processes to prevent updating games that are currently running. This information is not sent to Epic.

We only import your Steam friends with your explicit permission. The launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file. However information from this file is only sent to Epic if you choose to import your Steam friends, and then only hashed ids of your friends are sent and no other information from the file.

Epic is controlled by Tim Sweeney. We have lots of external shareholders, none of whom have access to customer data.

Daniel Vogel
VP of Engineering
Epic Games Inc.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PhoenixPoint/comments/b0rxdq/epic_game_store_spyware_tracking_and_you/eijlbge/
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jawmuncher

Man Mega
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
10,978
Ibis Island
The free games they give out to make you install the launcher feel rather dirty now. I'm all for "competition" but this doesn't seem like the right move to have consumers trusting in your launcher.
 

RionaaM

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
1,852
Every day I feel more validated in my decision to never install this terrible program. I neither need nor want Epic spying on my Steam activity.
 

jsnepo

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,527
Wait so just to clarify, you don't opt in to this right? EGS just does this without asking the user?
 

Bleu

Member
Sep 21, 2018
542
epic's store eula does not mention anything like this.
it's spyware behavior.
 

Zexion

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
984
This doesn't really sound terrible, most systems that link to your steam already track this information. Now if it had a key logger then you'd really catch my eye, but the data they're collecting is stuff I either give away willingly via public profile or stuff they already know.
 

Maintenance

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,484
Just another day in C O M P E T I T I O N news.

Not a single bit surprised, when something is free, you're the product.
 

Griff

Member
Aug 12, 2018
1,281
Twin Peaks, Washington
Yyyyeeaaaah as if there weren't enough reasons not to support this store. HARD pass. I'm so confused on the logic behind the store's launch, they must have known people would find this?
 

Ge0force

Self-requested ban.
Banned
Oct 28, 2017
5,265
Belgium
Now I understand why Epic's "free" games require Epic's launcher to be running.

This data gathering is unacceptable for me. Even if it's only used for friends import, the store shouldn't be collecting anything until I actually use this import function. It doesn't seem unlikely that Epic is using this data for their own benefits.

I'm so done with Epic's shitty strategies. I don't even want their free games anymore. Uninstalling their launcher as we speak.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,169
This doesn't really sound terrible, most systems that link to your steam already track this information. Now if it had a key logger then you'd really catch my eye, but the data they're collecting is stuff I either give away willingly via public profile or stuff they already know.
Forgive me if I'm wrong but this is done without even linking your Steam friends list, correct?

Opting in to this is one thing, Having it done behind the scenes is another thing entirely.
 

ShinUltramanJ

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,492
I was adding the free games to my library, but I’ll be uninstalling it now.

Everything about Epic is shit.
 

Thrill_house

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,412
Hows them free games taste now? Lol. Glad I stuck to my guns. I'll pay full price elsewhere before I install or support their bullshit for a free game