In the wake of controversies involving user privacy data, there have been a number of scandals and congressional hearings, and lots of chatter about how big businesses handle your data. It's always scary to think about what some company might be doing with your information or how much they pry into your personal life. This has been the case for many gamers who discovered that they've been run through the privacy data wringer and that a company known as RedShell has been gathering a lot more data about them than they thought possible. Thankfully, some companies have vowed to remove the software from their games.
Bleeping Computer did a detailed report on the incident, which involves a marketing analytics firm known as RedShell. The company uses an API that hooks into user registration forms and pulls the relevant info from the registration and feeds it back through to the publisher. While this may seem benign, it turns out it wasn't just capturing basic user registration data. RedShell's SDK was embedded into games and was capturing user data related to a number of other computer and online activity, tracking footprints, monitoring website activity, and gathering data beyond the basic info on user registration applications.
When gamers discovered this, they realized that a lot of their data was being captured without their consent. As some of you may know, this kind of privacy breach is unlawful according to the new General Data Protection Regulation that was implemented this past May in Europe, in order to protect user's privacy data from exploitation.
Gamers didn't stand by idly through. They went through the painstaking task of collecting the API data from RedShell across dozens of games, and began collectively reporting to the publishers that their privacy data was being misused without their consent.
This managed to make its way across Reddit, gaming forums, and multiple Steam communities. Gamers reported the issue in mass to each of the development studios and publishers running games that feature the RedShell Analytics SDK, which included everything from AAA titles like Injustice 2 for PC, as well as ZeniMax Online's Elder Scrolls Online. Other popular mid-budget games like Dead By Daylight and Conan Exiles, along with the Total War games Battlerite were also affected.
The list of games is rather exhaustive, but gamers went through the process of detailing the RedShell API data traces and notified the studios about it, to which some studios actually responded by stating that they would be looking into removing the SDK from their games.
16 games in total will have the RedShell Analytics API removed from their services. A host of other games are still up in the air as of the writing of this article. Plenty of gamers don't like the idea that RedShell is collecting lots of personal information across their online profiles, and hope to have it removed for good. Oftentimes these sort of marketing SDKs are implemented into games to gather feedback and data on player trends, buying trends, and user engagement for the purposes of marketing.