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

Oct 27, 2017
195
No they were put there as a competitive way to gain a competitive nature on a very competitive platform. Competition!

Also reports from some websites are starting to file in, but as expected they conflate the issue and take the PR stance for granted especially handwaving in the lede.

https://www.pcgamer.com/au/epic-steam-data-reddit/
https://www.pcgamesn.com/epic-launcher-spyware
Yep, damage control at it's finest.

Media finally spoken out!


🤣🤣🤣
Now that is some next level damage control.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
3,615
I know I come down hard on Valve's lack of communication, so I don't expect this to happen...

But I'd die laughing if Valve made some sort of statement on how their APIs are there for a reason, and any company that circumvents or avoids use of those APIs - for whatever reason - should be regarded with caution. How the media would square that statement with their anti-Valve/Steam bias of late would be fantastic to watch.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,584
Any number of reasons. The most obvious being "they plan on using it at some point". It doesn't mean they're using it now, though. If they are, that's a problem obviously.

If the data is being scraped and stored locally, they don't necessarily have to ask authorization. Videogames don't have to ask permission to create a log file containing your OS, Windows Location, installed drivers, CPU details, GPU details, and stuff like that. They DO have to ask permission to send this data back to the game's developer.

I wouldn't put it past Epic to at some point confusingly ask whether you would like to not not not not not not send data about time played to Epic, however.
If their client is reading the file to store a local copy, they could easily get the data too and store it on their servers. The fact they said they aren't doing it, dosn't mean they aren't doing it. Sorry, this is not a court and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,064
If their client is reading the file to store a local copy, they could easily get the data too and store it on their servers. The fact they said they aren't doing it, dosn't mean they aren't doing it. Sorry, this is not a court and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
I think it really comes down to some people having a pre-existing problem with Epic and assuming the worst. It's why literally every report about Epic triggers a wave of blind outrage in the absence of clearer facts.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,685
your OS, Windows Location, installed drivers, CPU details, GPU details, and stuff like that. They DO have to ask permission to send this data back to the game's developer.
You understand why that stuff would not be considered PII to the same degree as "games owned," "time spent playing each game," "friends," etc. right?

I think it really comes down to some people having a pre-existing problem with Epic and assuming the worst. It's why literally every report about Epic triggers a wave of blind outrage in the absence of clearer facts.
Is it unjustified to suspect that the guy who ran SteamSpy, which was all about scraping and publishing data, maybe doesn't have the best intentions when it comes to being respectful of people's data?
 
Feb 7, 2019
51
I think it really comes down to some people having a pre-existing problem with Epic and assuming the worst. It's why literally every report about Epic triggers a wave of blind outrage in the absence of clearer facts.
Would you be OK with apps on your phone being granted access to your address book without consent?
 
Nov 8, 2017
2,594
I know I come down hard on Valve's lack of communication, so I don't expect this to happen...

But I'd die laughing if Valve made some sort of statement on how their APIs are there for a reason, and any company that circumvents or avoids use of those APIs - for whatever reason - should be regarded with caution. How the media would square that statement with their anti-Valve/Steam bias of late would be fantastic to watch.
Well there was one journalist, I forget which publication, who had a big rant on Twitter about how the message Valve posted on the steam page for Metro Exodus was some kind of huge problem. So I suspect we would see similar takes in this case.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,584
I think it really comes down to some people having a pre-existing problem with Epic and assuming the worst. It's why literally every report about Epic triggers a wave of blind outrage in the absence of clearer facts.
The fact is that Epic is gathering a lot of info outside of the Steam API functionality, unnecessary for the functionality of the client and directly to my personal and private space. With no disclosure and no guarantee except their word, that is not being used for their own market research possibly violating GDPR.

They said they know precisely which % of people playing fortnite plays regularly on Steam, which correlates 100% with the info they claim they don't use and store. Is on their side to proof that's not the case, not for me to believe it.
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,064
Would you be OK with apps on your phone being granted access to your address book without consent?
If they were transmitting that information outside the phone, sure. However, I wouldn't be surprised if an app designed for making phone calls was keeping a copy of the address book even though it didn't have an import functionality yet. File manager programs have access to every single file on the phone. It's only a problem if they transmit details about said files outside the phone without permission.
They said they know precisely which % of people playing fortnite plays regularly on Steam, which correlates 100% with the info they claim they don't use and store.
That is a good point, and Epic should be pressed hard on it for clarification/justification.
 
Mar 14, 2019
2
Germany
Well, I knew I should have deleted my account after the 20th "someone tried to access your account" email. Luckily I never installed the launcher, but I just hope for the sake of people who did that we won't discover Epic accessing even more data. Lowkey makes me worry about the security of my Steam account.
 
Nov 14, 2017
551
Original findings + Epic response

More than enough for Jim to make Jimquisition Special about Epic using EGS to breach trust of their users / clients, doing data privacy breaches and then using that mined data to "compete" etc.

Will he finally rake EGS for... anything?
He won't because Steam Bad.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,323
Google, Epic and China should create a console for mass public surveillance and data collection. Maybe invite Facebook along for the ride too.
 
Nov 8, 2017
2,594
That is a good point, and Epic should be pressed hard on it for clarification/justification.
It doesn't seem likely they will from journalists at least, considering how softball all the articles on EGS related stories have been. The confirmation bias you discuss above has been in effect the other way around too, with people (even well prior to the Rape Day stuff) having issues with Steam and therefore taking a very positive and charitable approach to all of Epic's moves and actions.
 
Feb 23, 2019
37
I think it really comes down to some people having a pre-existing problem with Epic and assuming the worst. It's why literally every report about Epic triggers a wave of blind outrage in the absence of clearer facts.
Well maybe it's a factor but to be honest every time some of this stuff happens people tend to be upset, no matter who does it
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,967
FR

"while we do look at information we aren't supose to look at, we dont take it, WE PROMISE"

"Btw we do still do this outside of proper channels with regards to the Steam API"
"that may be there, but I won't tell you why"

edit: seems that he was just spamming the reddit reply beforehand, and that he doesn't understand why people don't like this answer.
https://twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/with_replies
 
Oct 26, 2017
84

"while we do look at information we aren't supose to look at, we dont take it, WE PROMISE"

"Btw we do still do this outside of proper channels with regards to the Steam API"
This info would have been uploaded, otherwise they wouldnt know who does/doesnt use steam. Wait, that makes to much logical sense, it cant be right..

...I guess i could always deny access to aws server's for the process and see what happens when a new file gets generated. The client seems to already be fairly chatty, running a process scan every three min, then sending some stuff to aws.
 
If their client is reading the file to store a local copy, they could easily get the data too and store it on their servers. The fact they said they aren't doing it, dosn't mean they aren't doing it. Sorry, this is not a court and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
And, it's worth pointing out, there's no reason to do that UNTIL the user has prompted the app to do so. Grabbing it and having it ready in the wings is just sketchy as all hell.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,967
FR
Media finally spoken out!


🤣🤣🤣
Let's not act like they didn't talk about it, it was posted an hour before that:
https://www.pcgamer.com/epic-steam-data-reddit/

Epic's response isn't satisfying everyone: Several respondents on Reddit ask why the company is collecting data preemptively and without permission, despite Vogel saying that the Steam data is only transmitted if the user opts-in to importing Steam friends. With so much existing animus around the Epic Store and its exclusivity deals, it's likely this one will keep smoldering for now.
 
Oct 28, 2017
239
Of all the people in the industry, Randy is probably not on the top of my list of having a sound judgment taking into account he left a USB with internal secret information from his company AND squirting barely legal porn in a fast food restaurant.
I know, but he had earned himself some goodwill in my eyes by granting BBI the rights to the Homeworld IP for their totally-not-a-prequel-Hardware-wink-microgamma while also footing the bill for a very extensive remaster of the two originals and getting BBI involved in that too on top of everything else. I mean, having Rob Cunningham and Aaron Kambeitz help on remastering Homeworld and, while they were at it, release an amazing art book was a series of awesome and unexpected news for me.

I hope this clarifies why I didn't quite see him as the villain most of the internet perceived him as for the colonial marines clusterfuck.

I just try to forget he tore off pages of the sacrosanct manual for a dumb magic trick. Which is arguably a little less offensive to common sense than what you referenced.
 
Last edited:
Oops, this remind me of a recruiting company here that used a script to download all of their competitor's data.
They named the script "steal.phtml" and the first line was a comment:

Script to steal competitor's data.

People have no shame lol
 
Oct 25, 2017
592
Oh..

...oh dear.

I'd uninstall it, but... I do developmental learning with Unreal Engine 4, so like... not really an option for me.

Still, this isn't... a good look.
 
Oct 30, 2017
1,642
Australia
Let's not act like they didn't talk about it, it was posted an hour before that:
https://www.pcgamer.com/epic-steam-data-reddit/
https://www.pcgamer.com/epic-steam-data-reddit/

They actually did write an article about it 30 minutes before this post went up lol
My only problem so far with the gaming media reporting on this (those who have) is that they are simply shaping down the barebones issue and casting it as a non-issue all while peppering in the PR statement on Reddit that reads like a farce. I understand in not wanting to overload your reader with technical mumbo jumbo but at least get the real hard facts out that it isn't just the friends list but cloud data, games played and what games you have. On top of that you have Sweeney saying they know that data is being collected, but that it is okay because *they* aren't sending it back to their servers.

I mean, I can't really take that from face value when you've got PR throwing a statement so blanketed that they completely ignored the fact users have found more than just the friend's list being datamined in hopes of stamping out the fire.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,419
All you people stuck with UE for education or work: It might be tricky, but you could attempt to run it in a sandboxed environment.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,941
I don't actually think PC Gamer's editorial stance being kinda weak on this stuff is at all related to their apparent taking payment from Epic for improperly disclosed sponsored content, but it is a really bad look.
 
Mar 14, 2019
207
I don't actually think PC Gamer's editorial stance being kinda weak on this stuff is at all related to their apparent taking payment from Epic for improperly disclosed sponsored content, but it is a really bad look.
I really don't like how they run a pro-epic article every time there's a news story about any whiff of controversy involving epic. Or saying that steam did somthing positive.

it's getting a bit absurd.
 
Oct 27, 2017
703
Privacy outrage is so outdated.
Give up. Anything that's online, is in resellable corporate databases linked to your hashed customer id.
It's just how it goes. If you want something private.. do not put that information in the hands of a corporate block.
 
Mar 14, 2019
207
Privacy outrage is so outdated.
Give up. Anything that's online, is in resellable corporate databases linked to your hashed customer id.
It's just how it goes. If you want something private.. do not put that information in the hands of a corporate block.
But.... this isn't supposed to be online?

There's a difference between disclosing information while browsing the internet and installing an application to do one thing and have it rifle through parts of your computer that have nothing to do with that application's functioning.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,858
I've had zero issues with their business practices up till now but this is unacceptable. I intend to pull back any support of their platform for the time being.
 
Nov 17, 2017
1,185
Looks like those free games came with a caveat. I’ll continue getting the free games since they already have access, but I highly doubt I’ll ever enter my credit card on their store.
As long as fromsoft stays away I will be fine.
 
Jan 29, 2019
49
Montreal
Privacy outrage is so outdated.
Give up. Anything that's online, is in resellable corporate databases linked to your hashed customer id.
It's just how it goes. If you want something private.. do not put that information in the hands of a corporate block.
This isn't the only issue with this.

It's also a potential breach for beta testers on games still officially unannounced and unlisted on Steam. the EGS client can sniff those out from your steam folder and then go and contact the dev/pub and try and get an exclusive deal out of them. It's just shady and unethical as heck.
 
Oct 27, 2017
232
Well there was one journalist, I forget which publication, who had a big rant on Twitter about how the message Valve posted on the steam page for Metro Exodus was some kind of huge problem. So I suspect we would see similar takes in this case.
I think it was someone from kotaku.

Fuck....I want to uninstall, but I need the epic launcher for school.
How can the store side of Epic be so much shittier than the engine/Unreal side?
Maybe you could try sandboxing it? Might still allow you to use it while keeping your privacy.

Privacy outrage is so outdated.
Ain't for you to decide fam.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,181
I know they keep saying that this is all Epic and Tencent has nothing to do with any of their decisions. But really, you really want me to believe that Epic wants in on creating a store all on their own? The fact that one of their largest shareholders just so happens to be a company that runs their own stores in Asia and has yet to make an in road to the West is just pure coincidence right?
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,805
My only problem so far with the gaming media reporting on this (those who have) is that they are simply shaping down the barebones issue and casting it as a non-issue all while peppering in the PR statement on Reddit that reads like a farce. I understand in not wanting to overload your reader with technical mumbo jumbo but at least get the real hard facts out that it isn't just the friends list but cloud data, games played and what games you have. On top of that you have Sweeney saying they know that data is being collected, but that it is okay because *they* aren't sending it back to their servers.

I mean, I can't really take that from face value when you've got PR throwing a statement so blanketed that they completely ignored the fact users have found more than just the friend's list being datamined in hopes of stamping out the fire.
I think they’re just so used to the console space and big publishers throwing their weight around. There are so few actual journalists and technical writers in gaming, and so many enthusiasts that are happy to be “in” and receiving attention from publishers. They’re just not accustomed to challenging the hand that feeds them, and when those players start throwing their weight around in the PC space they just don’t know how to react. Since valve don’t really have a strong PR presence they can’t compete with the constant assault of information from big players.