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Epic says its Game Store does not spy on you



  Despite what you can read, Epic says this is not spyware.
Enlarge / In spite of what you read, Epic says this is not spyware.

of the Internet gaming is concerned with a little self-described "amateur analysis" that suggests some "pretty sketchy," activity like spyware on the part of the Epic Game Store and its software launcher. The Epic has now expanded to defend itself from accusations, while also being welcomed into an "outdated implementation" that could make unauthorized access to local Steam information.

The Reddit post "Epic Game Store, Spyware, Tracking, and You!" points to a wide range of implications based on some extensive file and traffic access to traffic observation when the Epic Game Store is running. But many of the posts focus on communicating with Epic to the Chinese gaming giant Tencent, which owns a part of the company.

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

Sweeney offered a similar defense of Epic's relationship to Tencent in December, when similar concerns first stood up. "Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company," he wrote on time. "We do not share this, for sale, or broker access to them for advertising as many other companies do. I am the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and will never allow it to happen."

"Epic is controlled by Tim Sweeney," Epic Engineering VP Daniel Vogel added in response to another recent thread. "We have many external shareholders, none of which have access to customer data."

Vogel went to offer explanations for some other suspicious looking Epic Games Store app activity. For example, a "tracking.js" file is used to keep track of revenue sharing statistics for the Support-an-Create Epic program, he wrote. Vogel also teaches the open source code behind features such as anonymized hardware survey, the Unreal Editor, and Chromium-based UI launcher, which he said caused most of what was recognized by the original posted as "intricate" app activity.

However, Vogel acknowledges that "the launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file" automatically and without user's explicit permission. However, he writes, that the hashed file is only sent to Epic if you choose to import your Steam friends into the Epic Game Store to find potential matches with others who have opted in.

However, Sweeney acknowledged that Epic making local access to Steam files without direct authorization may be capable of rubbing some users in the wrong manner. "You're right to just access the localconfig.vdf file after the user chooses to import Steam friends," he wrote on Reddit. "The current execution is a remnant left over from our rush to implement social features in the early days of Fortnite . It's really my fault to push the launcher team to support it super fast and then acknowledging that we will replace it because this issue comes before that we are going to fix it. "

" The type of independent analysis of what the access of software data … is a healthy trend and I'd love to see it done more widely, "Sweeney wrote in another comment. "In studying the results, it is important to recognize normal from abnormal … and separate technical analysis from inflammatory rhetoric, such as claiming that we are a group of Chinese spies."


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