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

Oct 25, 2017
3,577
Even if the VGM thing were true, I wonder how up-front they’ve been about the numbers. The whole thing about EGS is that Epic are trying to flip people who don’t use Steam into becoming more general PC gamers, rather than pure Fortnite players. But extrapolation of numbers from a self-reporting survey isn’t very specific, and every “news” article about the percentage of Fortnite players who don’t use Steam has been pretty definite on those percentages. VGM and Epic could have teamed up to offer Fortnite rewards for every survey response, but if they had it would’ve leaked long ago. So I wonder what the MoE is on those numbers, and whether devs have been informed of the imperfect nature of the data. I would assume they had, but considering the amaturish nature of some of this... *shrug emoji*
 
Oct 29, 2017
80
Apologies if this has been addressed earlier in the thread, but has anyone tried linking their Steam friends up, and then seeing if the Epic launcher still does the same thing with their Steam data? Surely if it is just a workaround for getting friends' data, then it would only ever need to do this scraping the once?
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
I just scrolled through Tim Sweeneys twitter and I have to say, not only is it apparent that he wants a single PC market ecosystem similar to consoles to buy games from but it’s also apparent that he is a hypocrite based on what he has said in the past, he has a very anti-consumer outlook now.

Not only that but he denies that Steamspy is involved with Epic, which I find very hard to believe.

Call me paranoid but I don’t trust him.
 
Jun 15, 2018
601
United Kingdom
I just scrolled through Tim Sweeneys twitter and I have to say, not only is it apparent that he wants a single PC market ecosystem similar to consoles to buy games from but it’s also apparent that he is a hypocrite based on what he has said in the past, he has a very anti-consumer outlook now.

Not only that but he denies that Steamspy is involved with Epic, which I find very hard to believe.

Call me paranoid but I don’t trust him.
He's probably passing on all the details to the Chinese via Tencent as well.
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,833
Austria
I just scrolled through Tim Sweeneys twitter and I have to say, not only is it apparent that he wants a single PC market ecosystem similar to consoles to buy games from but it’s also apparent that he is a hypocrite based on what he has said in the past, he has a very anti-consumer outlook now.

Not only that but he denies that Steamspy is involved with Epic, which I find very hard to believe.

Call me paranoid but I don’t trust him.
They employee the person who created SteamSpy,. Him saying they don't have anything to do with it is just straight out lying. Why is no one calling him out? Oh right, because they bought everyone.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,074
Honestly, the official comment from epic sounds... reasonable? The conversation here and the content of the story seems kind of discordant.

I don’t know, as a programmer, it doesn’t sound wild.

edit: this is a bad take, clarified below
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
421
Edinburgh UK
Uninstalled last night.

It was only installed because my son had been playing fortnite. The thing is, I have no problem with another store if it was used for Epic's own games exclusively and other 3rd party games were on there as an alternative to Steam/Origin/Uplay/GoG.

The crazy thing is they could undercut Steam and a lot others because of the store's smaller cut but they have decided to strong arm it, this breach of privacy is the last straw.

Fuck them.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,074
There is nothing reasonable in avoiding to use official way of acquiring data they need.
Depending on an online service that you don’t have control over is a good way to make your program behave unpredictably. If the file is on the disk already, there isn’t a good reason to fuck around with someone else’s api.

edit: i misunderstood exactly what was happening here and got super lazy -- clarified below
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2017
3,833
Austria
Depending on an online service that you don’t have control over is a good way to make your program behave unpredictably. If the file is on the disk already, there isn’t a good reason to fuck around with someone else’s api.
Cool. So there is also good reason that the Epic Launcher collects my family photos since they are files on my disk?
Lighten up.
 

EloKa

GSP
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
217
Depending on an online service that you don’t have control over is a good way to make your program behave unpredictably. If the file is on the disk already, there isn’t a good reason to fuck around with someone else’s api.
Err... what? Are you saying that it's fine to breach data privacy and basically steal personal information from your hard drive because you can't be bothered to use an API which only shares unpersonalized information?

Maybe there is a reason why you can't access all information with the API like ... I don't know ... privacy stuff?

Epic introduced the data mining around 3 weeks after Valve tightened their API to comply with the GDPR. Seems like Epic doesn't like laws and simply wants more of that sweet personal unlawful information. But hey, this info already exists so they are free to steal it right from under your nose I guess
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2017
5,103
Depending on an online service that you don’t have control over is a good way to make your program behave unpredictably. If the file is on the disk already, there isn’t a good reason to fuck around with someone else’s api.
That file is NOT for use by other software. That is why Steam API is there.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,577
So, do you guys think that epics response is reasonable ?
No. It probably is nothing major, but Galyonkin is still running Steamspy, and he was very vocal when Valve tightened up some of the holes in Steam’s privacy settings last year. He has always viewed more data as his number one priority. That, alongside things like Facebook’s mining and use of data, mean that Epic shouldn’t be given a pass on their data collection, and should rather show that they are beyond reproach. Which they haven’t done. It would be easy for them to shut down whatever this is, and use the Steam API until a more robust solution is developed by their coders. They’re instead choosing to minimise the perceived effect of their data mining. Whether it’s harmless or not, their response is not good enough.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,186
Indonesia
I just scrolled through Tim Sweeneys twitter and I have to say, not only is it apparent that he wants a single PC market ecosystem similar to consoles to buy games from but it’s also apparent that he is a hypocrite based on what he has said in the past, he has a very anti-consumer outlook now.

Not only that but he denies that Steamspy is involved with Epic, which I find very hard to believe.

Call me paranoid but I don’t trust him.
They employee the person who created SteamSpy,. Him saying they don't have anything to do with it is just straight out lying. Why is no one calling him out? Oh right, because they bought everyone.
And said person is still running SteamSpy while earning $14k per month from Patreon. And Tim actually said they have nothing to do with SteamSpy? How stupid can people be to believe that?
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,149
So... the media portrayed it like ''not a big deal''?
As with everything else that casts Epic in a bad light.

So, do you guys think that epics response is reasonable ?
No, because they didn't explain why their launcher collects data that aren't necessary for the operation of the launcher without the user's explicit permission. Even for data that they collect by default (hardware and software info) Valve asks the user to opt in to that data collection.
 
Oct 25, 2017
911
Apparently file is around 10mb. But as I said before they claim that they only parse friends info but why they are copying entire Steam usage file? You can parse only friends data and then save it as separate file that would probably be like few KB instead of 10+MB.
Something interesting is that the file size only goes UP throughout the weeks.
Wouldn't an increment in size mean that there is an history also being kept by Epic in their file?
It's not like my friend list gets bigger every week.
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
They employee the person who created SteamSpy,. Him saying they don't have anything to do with it is just straight out lying. Why is no one calling him out? Oh right, because they bought everyone.
He's probably passing on all the details to the Chinese via Tencent as well.
And said person is still running SteamSpy while earning $14k per month from Patreon. And Tim actually said they have nothing to do with SteamSpy? How stupid can people be to believe that?
I actually happen to agree with all of you on this, very fishy and honestly at this point trusting Epic with anything seems to be like walking into a snake pit with a blindfold on.
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
At the end of the day the gaming media doesn't care about consumer rights, all they care about is getting their free games and website clicks.
Same for most Youtubers sadly as well, as long as they get their free review copies etc.

Thankfully not all of them are like that, some are reliable and decent but yeah, in general I agree, the gaming press isn't reliable anymore, they feel more like advertisers than neutral unbiased sources of information.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,051
Depending on an online service that you don’t have control over is a good way to make your program behave unpredictably. If the file is on the disk already, there isn’t a good reason to fuck around with someone else’s api.
You're not the owner of the files on someone else's disk. You need the user to know and accept what you want to do otherwise you're just developing a spyware app. As a programmer you don't have boundaries and compliance?
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
So, do you guys think that epics response is reasonable ?
I think at this point the only people who would think it's reasonable are people with confirmation bias, in the same way that people who thought Steam having Rape Day as a game was ok because of "choice" also have confirmation bias.

If you look at the evidence that has been provided and the explanations for it from Epic and Tim then it certainly does not sound reasonable at all, it sounds like they are telling lies and trying to cover their bases when looking at it objectively.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,770
Honestly, the official comment from epic sounds... reasonable? The conversation here and the content of the story seems kind of discordant.

I don’t know, as a programmer, it doesn’t sound wild.
If you think it's OK for a program to be snooping around user files without their permission, please let me know which programs you worked on so I can make sure to avoid them like the plague.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,103
Andy's not wrong there.
He is wrong, data on your personal disk don't need to be encrypted. Are your personal photos encrypted for example? If not, would you be fine with any software making copies of them to their folder and potentially sending them to their servers without you knowing about it?
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,011
He is wrong, data on your personal disk don't need to be encrypted. Are your personal photos encrypted for example? If not, would you be fine with any software making copies of them to their folder and potentially sending them to their servers without you knowing about it?
If you care so much about your privacy, you should encrypt your data.
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
Is there any stories on this on any big sites yet?
I just went to google and typed in "Epic games" and looked at the news feed, pretty much every article from the big gaming sites is a positive spin piece about cloud saves coming and improvements, PC Gamer has an article which essentially downplays everything that has been exposed and as you can see, even the person who wrote the article is saying Steam does the same thing (which it does not, at all.)
 
Feb 21, 2018
392
Andy's not wrong there.
He's blaming on the user and steam to encrypt every last little bit of its files. The thing is why would a big ass company like epic NOT use a public access point such as the steam api to use that specific info? They are just using sketchy means to get that information from the user without any consent beforehand thats not really related to the epic launcher? Like user steam playtimes? He's pretty much blaming the victim. So yes he is definitely pretty much wrong there like trying to take off the attention off what epic is trying to do...

If you care so much about your privacy, you should encrypt your data.
But thats not the point here... Its pretty much illegal and immoral what epic is doing and they should be punished for it? What you said goes without saying obviously but like i said before, thats totally not the point of this discussion.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,074
There is nothing reasonable in avoiding to use official way of acquiring data they need.
Cool. So there is also good reason that the Epic Launcher collects my family photos since they are files on my disk?
Lighten up.
Err... what? Are you saying that it's fine to breach data privacy and basically steal personal information from your hard drive because you can't be bothered to use an API which only shares unpersonalized information?

Maybe there is a reason why you can't access all information with the API like ... I don't know ... privacy stuff?

Epic introduced the data mining around 3 weeks after Valve tightened their API to comply with the GDPR. Seems like Epic doesn't like laws and simply wants more of that sweet personal unlawful information. But hey, this info already exists so they are free to steal it right from under your nose I guess
That file is NOT for use by other software. That is why Steam API is there.
You're not the owner of the files on someone else's disk. You need the user to know and accept what you want to do otherwise you're just developing a spyware app. As a programmer you don't have boundaries and compliance?
If you think it's OK for a program to be snooping around user files without their permission, please let me know which programs you worked on so I can make sure to avoid them like the plague.


i misunderstood exactly what was happening -- I thought they were scraping for friends when you explicitly grant them permission to access you steam friends. i'm still rattled from other things in the news today, and was too quick to scan the article and too dismissive with a shitty hot take that i farted out from a position of some lofty expertise.
 
Dec 9, 2017
875
I just went to google and typed in "Epic games" and looked at the news feed, pretty much every article from the big gaming sites is a positive spin piece about cloud saves coming and improvements, PC Gamer has an article which essentially downplays everything that has been exposed and as you can see, even the person who wrote the article is saying Steam does the same thing (which it does not, at all.)
Why does everyone seem to be going to bat for Epic quite a lot lately in spite of the recent outcries over their activity?
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,431
Europe
So any data stored on your computer is fair game? And any program associated with that data is to blame for Epic snooping on it?
If you don't encrypt your data, third-party applications are allowed to access it and maybe even share it! Don't blame the spying application, blame yourself!

/s
 
Jun 15, 2018
601
United Kingdom
I just went to google and typed in "Epic games" and looked at the news feed, pretty much every article from the big gaming sites is a positive spin piece about cloud saves coming and improvements, PC Gamer has an article which essentially downplays everything that has been exposed and as you can see, even the person who wrote the article is saying Steam does the same thing (which it does not, at all.)
Like I said, gaming sites don't give a fuck, they are not your friends. They are only friendly with publishers who provide them with PR copy to spew out and free games to keep them on side.
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
Why does everyone seem to be going to bat for Epic quite a lot lately in spite of the recent outcries over their activity?
Because of Steam and their lack of curation imo, that's what it has boiled down to, some members of the gaming press seemingly hate Steam now and want competition at whatever the cost. I don't think it's logical to think in black and white terms like that, you can have a problem with how Steam curates and still not support what Epic are doing, know what I mean?

Either that or Epic have paid them off, considering they are buying exclusives from developers that wouldn't surprise me tbh but that's just conjecture on my part.
 
Dec 30, 2018
608
Eurogamer. Tim's response is out of this world.

Like what the hell? So they'll keep it running if no one noticed it?
That's a blatant lie from Tim anyway, if people believe that then I have some snake oil to sell them.

Like I said, gaming sites don't give a fuck, they are not your friends. They are only friendly with publishers who provide them with PR copy to spew out and free games to keep them on side.
I don't use gaming websites to be honest for that very reason, I signed up on Resetera because it has a great community and so I could get some honest opinions about games in the same way I watch certain YouTube channels for honest opinions.

Gaming websites these days are little more than paid promotions imo.