Epic says its Sport Retailer will not be spying on you

Enlarge / Regardless of what you will have learn, Epic says this isn’t spy ware.

This week, certain corners of the gaming Internet have been abuzz with a bit of self-described “amateur analysis” suggesting some “pretty sketchy,” spyware-like exercise on the a part of the Epic Game Store and its launcher software program. Epic has now stepped in to defend itself from these accusations, whereas additionally admitting to an “outdated implementation” that may make unauthorized entry to native Steam info.

The Reddit post “Epic Game Store, Spyware, Tracking, and You!” factors to a wide-ranging set of implications based mostly on some broad file and community entry site visitors observations when the Epic Sport Retailer is working. However a lot of the put up is targeted on Epic’s affiliation with Chinese gaming large Tencent, which owns a share of the corporate.

“Tencent is a significant, but minority shareholder in Epic,” co-founder and CEO Tim Sweeney wrote in response to the conspiracy concept in a single Reddit thread. “I’m the controlling shareholder of Epic… The decisions Epic makes are ultimately my decisions, made here in North Carolina based on my beliefs as a game developer about what the game industry needs!”

Sweeney supplied an identical protection of Epic’s relationship with Tencent back in December, when related considerations first popped up. “Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company,” he wrote at the time. “We don’t share it, sell it, or broker access to it for advertising like so many other companies do. I’m the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and would never allow this to happen.”

“Epic is controlled by Tim Sweeney,” Epic’s VP of Engineering Daniel Vogel added in response to a different latest thread. “We have lots of external shareholders, none of whom have access to customer data.”

Vogel went on to supply explanations for another suspicious-looking Epic Video games Retailer app exercise. A “tracking.js” file, as an illustration, is used to trace revenue-sharing statistics for Epic’s Support-a-Creator program, he wrote. Vogel additionally pointed to the open supply code behind options just like the anonymized {hardware} survey, the Unreal Editor, and the Chromium-based launcher UI, which he stated trigger most of what the unique put up identifies as “sketchy” app exercise.

Vogel does admit, although, that “the launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file” routinely and with out specific consumer permission. Nonetheless, he writes, that hashed file is barely despatched to Epic when you select to import your Steam mates to the Epic Sport Retailer in an effort to discover potential matches with others which have opted in.

Nonetheless, Sweeney acknowledged that Epic making native entry to Steam recordsdata with out direct permission may justifiably rub some customers the fallacious method. “You guys are right that we ought to only access the localconfig.vdf file after the user chooses to import Steam friends,” he wrote on Reddit. “The present implementation is a remnant left over from our rush to implement social options within the early days of Fortnite. It is truly my fault for pushing the launcher group to assist it tremendous rapidly after which figuring out that we needed to change it. Since this situation got here to the forefront we’ll repair it.”

“This sort of independent analysis of what data software accesses… is a healthy trend and I’d love to see it done more widely,” Sweeney wrote in another comment. “In analyzing the results, it’s important to distinguish the normal from the abnormal… and to separate technical analysis from inflammatory rhetoric, such as the insane claim that we’re a bunch of Chinese spies.”

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