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Koby

Epic Games Launcher appears to scan your computer and collect your data

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Epic Games has responded to multiple accusations saying that their Epic Games Launcher is scanning for and collecting users' Steam information without first requesting permission.

 

As detailed by Daniel Vogel, VP of Engineering at Epic Games, in the Reddit thread where the gamers' concerns were first expressed, the Epic Games Store client "makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file."

 

Upon startup the Epic Games Launcher clearly searches for a Steam install and proceeds to get list of files in your Steam Cloud, including your friends list, a list of your game saves, last play time, and copies your localconfig.vdf Steam file which contains all sorts of information up to and including login tokens (akin to information stored in your browsers cookies) which is strictly private data Steam goes on record saying shouldn't be access by 3rd parties period. This behavior is what you'd expect of spyware.

 

Vogel also stated that the Epic Games Launcher is also designed to track user behavior, as well as to send information to the company's servers.

 

We use a tracking pixel (tracking.js) for our Support-A-Creator program so we can pay creators. We also track page statistics.

 

The launcher sends a hardware survey (CPU, GPU, and the like) at a regular interval as outlined in our privacy policy (see the “Information We Collect or Receive” section).

 

The UDP traffic highlighted in this post is a launcher feature for communication with the Unreal Editor.

 

Additionally, in response to user concerns that the company's launcher also gathers info on "how long someone played a steam game and last time played along with Steam friends IDs."

 

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Epic Games Launcher reading the localconfig.vdf Steam file

 

Epic Games CEO and Founder Tim Sweeney also chimed in to answer some of the gamers' questions on Reddit, stating that "Since this issue came to the forefront we're going to fix it.", which only seems to make matters worse to be honest as it points out he knew exactly what was happening and why and thought it was a good idea and now is only fixing it because it became public knowledge that their client was behaving essentially as spyware.

 

Sweeney said that the current way of collecting client Steam info from users' computers is actually his fault:

 

You guys are right that we ought to only access the localconfig.vdf file after the user chooses to import Steam friends. It's actually my fault for pushing the launcher team to support it super quickly and then identifying that we had to change it. Since this issue came to the forefront we're going to fix it.

 

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EpicGames Launcher enumerating running processes

 

"We're working to update the implementation so that the Epic Games launcher only touches the Steam file at all if you choose to import friends" stated Sweeney in reply to concerns that the program is tracking Steam play time for various games.

 

A Valve spokesperson responded stating that the information stored within the localconfig.vdf Steam file is not intended to be used by other software:

 

We are looking into what information the Epic launcher collects from Steam.  The Steam Client locally saves data such as the list of games you own, your friends list and saved login tokens (similar to information stored in web browser cookies). This is private user data, stored on the user's home machine and is not intended to be used by other programs or uploaded to any 3rd party service.  Interested users can find localconfig.vdf and other Steam configuration files in their Steam Client’s installation directory and open them in a text editor to see what data is contained in these files. They can also view all data related to their Steam account at: https://help.steampowered.com/en/accountdata.

 

All in all, it's a pretty bad ordeal that Epic's Client was "secretly" making a copy of a file that contains numerous Steam related things, including your saved login tokens.

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I have never really been a fan of the way EPIC do things, sure they do offer the best revenue back to game developers over steam but every time I here about EPIC store it is never for the good reasons even if some of their intentions are good.

 

Steam will always remain my favourite place to get games as it has many more features and to me is more user friendly, I feel EPIC's pursuit to challenge steam is just to underhanded and shady one as if they can't win against them in a fair fight. Sure Steam isn't for everyone and some like EPIC and I am not one of them but I feel they need to shape up and restore their image if they want to have hopes of becoming a better store for games.

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Truth be told, this is another one of Sweeney's underhanded tactics against Steam. Nothing new here. Epic really isn't gonna get anywhere the way they're going with this, Steam already has too much a solid foothold for Epic to overtake them that easily.

 

As far as I'm concerned, now that I know about this...should I ever install Epic's client, all Epic's launcher is gonna get when it tries to read Steam files on my system, is a big ol' nasty Windows "Access is denied" message. A clever Windows admin such as myself also knows the tricks to prevent program installation detection and process listing. And there's not a damn thing they can do about any of it. :P

 

 

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