Friday , August 19 2022

Epic says Game Store does not spy on you


Even though you may have read it, Epic says it's not spyware.
Enlarge / T Even though you may have read it, Epic says it's not spyware.

This week, certain gameplay angles have been tackled with the self-described "amateur analysis" that suggests a "pretty vague" spy activity in the part of the Epic Game Store and its launch software. Epic has now come to defend himself against these accusations, while acknowledging the "outdated implementation" that can make unauthorized access to local Steam information.

Reddit post "Epic Game Store, Spivare, Tracking, and Iou!" points to a wide range of implications based on some broad traffic observations to access files and networks when the Epic Game Store is launched. However, a large portion of the post is focused on Epic's association with Chinese giant for gaming Tencent, which owns a part of the company.

"Tencent is a significant but minor shareholder in Epic," co-founder and executive director Tim Sveenei said in response to the theory of conspiracy in one Reddit thread. "I am the controlling shareholder of Epic … The decisions Epic brings are my decisions made here in North Carolina based on my beliefs as a developer of the game about what the game industry needs!"

Sweeney offered a similar defense to Epic's relationship with Tencent in December, when similar concerns arose. "Epic does not share customer information with Tencent or any other company," he wrote then. "We do not share, sell or advertise as many other companies do. I am the founder and controlling shareholder of Epica and I would never allow this to happen."

"Epic controls Tim Sveenei," Epic's vice president engineer Daniel Vogel added in response to another recent topic. "We have a lot of external shareholders, none of whom has access to customer information."

Vogel offered explanations for some other activities of the Epic Games Store application. The file "tracking.js", for example, is used to track revenue sharing statistics for the Epic Support-a-Creator program, he wrote. Vogel also pointed to open source code behind functions such as Anonymous Survey, Unreal Editor and Chromium-based UI Launcher, which he said caused most of what the original message identified as the sketchy activity of the application.

Vogel admits, however, that "the launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file" automatically and without explicit permission from users. However, he writes that the hacked file is only sent to Epic if you choose to import Steam friends into the Epic Game Store to find potential matches with other users who have turned on.

Nevertheless, Sveenei acknowledged that Epic would locally access Steam files without a direct license, which might reasonably have some users mistakenly rub. "You are right to access the localconfig.vdf file after the user chooses to import friends from Steam," he wrote at Reddit. "The current implementation is the rest that has left our haste to implement social characteristics in the early days Fortnite. In fact, I am guilty of pushing the launch team to quickly support it and then identifying that we need to change it. Since this issue has come to the forefront, we will fix it. "

"This type of independent analysis of access to software data … is a healthy trend and I would like to see it much wider," wrote Sveenei in a second comment. "Analyzing the results, it's important to distinguish normally from the abnormal … and separate the technical analysis from inflammatory rhetoric, such as the crazy claim that we are a bunch of Chinese spies."

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