Steam is spyware, yet no one calls it - Richard Geldreich (former Valve developer)

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#1 Posted by Vaeh (442 posts) -

'Epic Games Store Is Shit - But It's Not Spyware' - .matt of Facepunch does an analysis of what it actually does

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#2 Posted by The_Stand_In (1049 posts) -

Not seeing the part where Steam is spyware, as per the title. It gathers info about what you do within the client. Nearly ALL clients do this. Spyware, on the other hand, sends personal data from outside the client to whatever company.

It may be true that EGS is not spyware, but that doesn't make Steam spyware either.

Disingenuous title to say the least.

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#3 Posted by Ant_17 (12157 posts) -

Wow, steam is getting heat.

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#4 Posted by phbz (4323 posts) -

But Valve good Epic bad.

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#5 Posted by PC_Rocks (2057 posts) -

The Spyware thing came when they started copying the Steam files from the Steam folder for which Epic claimed they don't want to use the Steam API and were only importing friends list. For any software to be a Spyware it has to copy users data/other software without user's knowledge. So two things:

1) Steam isn't a Spyware as it only collects data via the activities you do on its client.

2) Epic currently don't appear to be a Spyware either however they did tried to access Steam's content in the past and from the very link you posted I found this:

.matt

So I have to ask, what reason would they have to still store a full copy of the file?

I'm aware they did not send all this data (probably) but at each launch they still copied the data and stored it an epic folder.

It appears they have at least stopped doing that, the files are now gone, I still have "unencrypted" (some simple XOR cipher iirc) copies of those files, I'm just curious how you would rate that behavior from a technical standpoint.

Like is it just lazy programming to not delete the data after processing, do you think they could have been stored for further processing at a later date?

With them having that removed there is sadly no real way of telling what they actually did with that.

Not that I say your analysis is wrong but I wonder if they might have sent more before and not sending more then the friendslist was also part of the fix that removed those SocialBackup files.

And the reply of the guy who did analysis:

I could be wrong on this one, but I think the most obvious reason from a programming perspective is you wouldn't be able to read it without administrative privileges, so upon installation (installers have admin privileges) they make a duplicate somewhere they can easily read it. It seems they've changed how it works now to no longer make a copy of the file.

But you are right; my analysis can only account for behaviour they're doing now, they could of been doing terrible things before hand but we have no evidence of anything.

So, it's pretty safe to say that Epic was doing something that they have stopped doing now after it became public. It could be shaddy or it's just nothing.

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#6 Edited by mrbojangles25 (43784 posts) -

So Tencent-Epic Game Store is still shit, and Steam is not spyware. Got it.

Another way you could have phrased it is "stop trying to make Valve into this evil megacorp, which it is not, and actually demonize the demons worth demonizing, such as the Tencent-Epic Game Store"

Sometimes the good, super-popular guys are exactly that: good, popular guys. I guess some kids can't grow out of their emo phase from youth and stop hating for the sport of it, though. Sad.

@The_Stand_In said:

[Steam] gathers info about what you do within the client. Nearly ALL clients do this. Spyware, on the other hand, sends personal data from outside the client to whatever company.

Could not have said it better myself.

Tired of this "Yeah, Tencent-Epic Store might be bad, bu---HEY LOOK OVER THERE! WHAT'S STEAM DOING?! Something questionable? No? Oh, well, gee that's a pretty close call though wait what were we talking about? Nothing? Good, my distraction work--I mean, hey look Fortnite."

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#8 Posted by lundy86_4 (52721 posts) -

Collecting data on what you utilize their own client for makes sense.

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#9 Posted by pyro1245 (4926 posts) -

Private company collecting your data VS Public company half-owned by large Chinese investment conglomerate collecting your data

Yeah I'll take my chances with Valve.

Epic has yet to provide any benefits that would make me want to have the launcher installed for longer than it takes me to play whatever game they have poached.

Really tho... Valve is but a very small part of the wider internet trying to collect all your data to sell in aggregate. You don't need a procmon to tell you common sense.

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#10 Edited by Kali-B1rd (2038 posts) -
@lundy86_4 said:

Collecting data on what you utilize their own client for makes sense.

This is how I read it.

I can imagine they collect more information about files and folders on your machine too.... possibly even worse stuff.

Only Valve really know at the moment.

-edit- Process data aswell no doubt... for anti-cheat , Steam-Exploitation etc. probably telemetry data too.

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#11 Posted by uninspiredcup (32812 posts) -

Speaking of former Valve employees, wise brah right here -

Problem with that, they know full well they are being cocks, and want you to be as dumb as a rock and take it up the shitter. They generally aren't "nice guys" to begin with and the gaming press won't voice concern because they aren't on your side.

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#12 Posted by Jacanuk (18279 posts) -
@vaeh said:

'Epic Games Store Is Shit - But It's Not Spyware' - .matt of Facepunch does an analysis of what it actually does

The guy is a joke who clearly have zero ideas of what spyware actually is.

But let´s look at the definition "Spyware. As the name implies, this is software that "spies" on your computer. ...Spyware can capture information like Web browsing habits, e-mail messages, usernames and passwords, and credit card information. If left unchecked, the software can transmit this data to another person's computer over the Internet."

So while steam does capture information on how you use STEAM, it does not capture outside the steam client. Which makes it zero to do with spyware, if we move the definition so far into the absurd, even Windows would be "spyware" since it captures and even customizes ads and information to how you use Windows. (and no turning some of those data collection off does not remove all data being transmitted to Microsoft)

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#13 Posted by lundy86_4 (52721 posts) -

@kali-b1rd said:

This is how I read it.

I can imagine they collect more information about files and folders on your machine too.... possibly even worse stuff.

Only Valve really know at the moment.

-edit- Process data aswell no doubt... for anti-cheat , Steam-Exploitation etc. probably telemetry data too.

Yeah, pretty much. These are private entities after all, and it's just like ads being directed based on your browsing history. Epic has just been back-pedalling consistently, and I just don't trust them with any sort of payment info.

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#14 Posted by Vaeh (442 posts) -

@Jacanuk: @mrbojangles25: @pc_rocks: @The_Stand_In: Steam gathers information about your computer regularly - often without your consent.

They have the right to sell your chats to third-parties. Yes, read their privacy policy.

https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/steam.html At this point everything is spyware. Steam is not some golden child.

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#15 Edited by The_Stand_In (1049 posts) -

@vaeh: From the site you used as a source... (which, by the way, I lack confidence in seeing as they misspelled "communications")

This program [Steam] is spyware because it collects huge amounts of user information, including but not limited to your Home Address, Telephone Number, Credit Card Number, and Internet Search History. Steam also profiles your hardware, communciations through Steam's social networking features

Everything you input into Steam account is collected by Steam. WOW shocker. Also, Steam can be used as a web browser to an extent, so the internet search history applies there too. And it surveys hardware. Okay... you can opt out of it if you want.

As for the chat... again, anything you put into Steam is going to be collected by Steam. I don't know why this would be surprising to anyone. Nothing on the internet is private. Nothing. Does that make it right? No, of course not. But like I said in my original post, it's only collecting stuff from the Steam client. It's not taking, for instance, your tax returns from 2017 stored as a .pdf in a folder in My Documents. It's not keylogging your passwords or reading your email or stealing your SSN. That is what spyware does, therefore Steam is not spyware.

My original comment was regarding the link you posted saying "Epic Games Store is Shit - But It's not Spyware", yet you calling Steam spyware.

Calling Steam spyware yet exonerating the Epic Games Store (which is partially owned by the Chinese government) from being spyware is ludicrous. You think Epic doesn't collect that same crap? That's just naive.

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#16 Posted by R10nu (1501 posts) -

@vaeh said:

@Jacanuk: @mrbojangles25: @pc_rocks: @The_Stand_In: Steam gathers information about your computer regularly - often without your consent.

They have the right to sell your chats to third-parties. Yes, read their privacy policy.

https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/steam.html At this point everything is spyware. Steam is not some golden child.

Don't know about you, but i always trust some random article from an early 2000s looking site that links itself for citations. And this is the citation for Steam being spyware btw:

Steam records your program usage habits for all programs launched through Steam's program launching service.

I.E. not spyware.

This spyware feature is mandatory and has no opt-out.

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#17 Posted by evilross (1975 posts) -

I’m old, so I remember when Steam first came out and what it was.

You young wippersnappers may not recall, but the original purpose of Steam was DRM for Half-Life 2.

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#18 Posted by joebones5000 (2114 posts) -

I play games with steam. I don't care how steam watches which games i play. That's just dumb paranoia.

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#19 Edited by pelvist (7367 posts) -

@evilross:

I'm pretty sure Steam was around before HL2 released, I remember everyone hated it too. I still have my first account active on there from 2003 I think, I just can't remember my password for it. The way I remember it was as a server browser and automatically updated Counter Strike for me. I think it was supposed to have anti-cheat too but it obviously never worked.

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#20 Posted by evilross (1975 posts) -

@pelvist:

Yea, it was released as sort of a beta and they used it for a patcher/anti- modding tool for Counter Strike, however, you didn’t have to have Steam to play Counter Strike, and most people just played off their own servers.

When Steam went full release it was REQUIRED for Half-Life 2, you can’t launch the game without it. It was strict DRM, and caused quit a fuss in the PC community at the time. Doom 3 came out at about the same time and of course didn’t require Steam....

As Valve started using Steam as a storefront to sell digital games DRM locked to Steam they faced a lot of backlash to begin with. They then started incorporating all the community features and what-not that in many cases they basically pulled from Xbox Live that was also just getting started up as a subscription service. Steam was able to offer browser based forums for games that proved popular as well as the friends lists and achievement tracking they pulled from Live. It kept growing and evolving over the late 2000’s and people started seeing as a “free PC gaming service” instead of what it actually was, a DRM launcher for a digital distribution site.

GOG.com came out as a place that sold old PC games but pledged to always be 100% DRM free, basically as a FU to Valve. They eventually started getting modern game licenses from the inroads they made with publishers and to my knowledge have always kept their DRM free promise. Of course the other thing that happened is GOG invested the money they made back into their production studio, CD Projekt, and they produced Witcher 2 and 3.... while Valve has pretty much left the developer side of the business.

Anyway. Yea. I was never a Steam fan, and still don’t use it, but that’s just out of old habit, and old habits die hard. I’m aware that its a much better service/launcher then it was back then, but I was never able to get that bitter taste out of my mouth from the original launch of Steam.

Now, if you can remember the uproar over DRM in the mid 2000’s just look where we are today, with the games as service model. Yuck. Once company’s figure they can take consumer rights away and still have them keep buying product it just snowballs on and on.

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#21 Posted by AdobeArtist (25111 posts) -

An app that collects information on... **what's done WITH the app**?????

gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssppppp???? :O

Do you even UNDERSTAND what spyware is?

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#22 Posted by rmpumper (559 posts) -

Are you an Epic Store exclusive troll or just dumb? On what planet an app collecting data on how its own users are using the app is spyware?

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#23 Posted by WESTBLADE (391 posts) -

Did you guys ever bother to read any of the license agreements on the apps you installed,
or do you just blindly ''click'' on ''i accept/agree'', then in next twenty tabs go ''next>next>next>next>next and i'm done'' phase?

No-one got rich by being a good person and playing fair with no dirty tactics involved...

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#24 Edited by gtx021 (342 posts) -

steam fanboys are getting f-cuket right and left and middle

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#25 Posted by Vaeh (442 posts) -

@The_Stand_In: Literally a developer that has over 15 years experience telling you exactly what's in the files and Steam sheep still aren't satisfied. So many whiny entitled little bitches in the PC community. Chinese government spyware arguments are the most retarded ones and I am certain they get onto many people's nerves, especially ones who dislike EPIC store. It's funny that you guys have no problem with HTC, Perfect World, but Epic/Tencent is a bad guy. Maybe if people hate Epic so much they should stop playing any game made with Unreal.

Steam is not spyware.

LMAO

@R10nu Most software you install or download is spyware to a degree. Steam is no exception.

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#26 Posted by ArchoNils2 (10329 posts) -

I guess it defines on what you call Spyware? I don't consider something spyware that gathers data on how I use the program. I do however consider it spyware if a program checks outside of the application what you do. Like the Epic Store checking what you're doing with your Steam account which they to some degree did

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#27 Posted by Star67 (4368 posts) -

Hmmm remember when you could just buy a game in the store and not have to worry about any of this bull crap?

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#28 Posted by enzyme36 (4153 posts) -

I dont give a shit about spyware or chat rooms or user reviews. Could care less about a stack of features list that I dont use. ... and I dont think anyone with a cell phone can complain about spyware gaming programs when they are already on the grid through their cellular.

All I want is to keep my collection of games and perfect game achievement number growing in one place. Thats it. I just want to keep building what I been building on steam. If I know a game is going to release on steam eventually... I will gladly wait for that release. If I think I can get all the achievements of a game, Ill prefer to play it on steam. Even once Epic gets this feature, I will still prefer to continue on steam than start again on Epic. Im sorry if this bothers you.

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#29 Posted by Macutchi (6697 posts) -

i once looked at a game for sale on steam. then a few days later i saw an ad on gamespot for the exact same game. coincidence? i think not. wake up sheeple

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#30 Edited by uninspiredcup (32812 posts) -
@pelvist said:

@evilross:

I'm pretty sure Steam was around before HL2 released, I remember everyone hated it too. I still have my first account active on there from 2003 I think, I just can't remember my password for it. The way I remember it was as a server browser and automatically updated Counter Strike for me. I think it was supposed to have anti-cheat too but it obviously never worked.

Correct. Counterstrike unlocked before Halflife 2.

Thing is though, back then it was a new concept and Steam itself basically had 0 games or features. So unless you cared about CS, it seemed genuinely pointless. But then of course, they worked on it and built it up.

If this was early 2000's, companies like Epic would get a more muted response, but we are sitting in 2019 (i think) expectations are obligatorily higher. And them, just ignoring all that shit and using seedy console practices ignoring the consumer, what else were they expecting?

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#31 Posted by The_Stand_In (1049 posts) -

@vaeh said:

@The_Stand_In: Literally a developer that has over 15 years experience telling you exactly what's in the files and Steam sheep still aren't satisfied. So many whiny entitled little bitches in the PC community. Chinese government spyware arguments are the most retarded ones and I am certain they get onto many people's nerves, especially ones who dislike EPIC store. It's funny that you guys have no problem with HTC, Perfect World, but Epic/Tencent is a bad guy. Maybe if people hate Epic so much they should stop playing any game made with Unreal.

Steam is not spyware.

LMAO

I never ONCE stated that the Epic Games Store is spyware either, genius. I simply stated it was partially owned by China, thus it is possible that the Chinese government has claim to any data Epic collects through it, just like how Valve collects Steam data.

I really have no stake in the whole "OMG EGS IS CHINESE SPYWARE!!1!!1!" argument. ALL of my personal info (SSN, DOB, age, full name, everywhere I have ever lived, etc.) is in Chinese hands already thanks to OPM's **** up a few years ago. And to be honest, the Chinese have been pretty good keepers of my personal info so far.

Why are you going to bat for Epic, anyway?

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#32 Edited by R10nu (1501 posts) -

@vaeh said:

Most software you install or download is spyware to a degree. Steam is no exception.

You've got some citations for that or that ghetto no-name site that sniffs its own farts supposed to suffice?

There's a very clear definition for it, so a piece of software is either spyware or it isn't. There's no "degree" to it, like there's no degree to having ebola.

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#33 Posted by Jacanuk (18279 posts) -
@vaeh said:

@Jacanuk: @mrbojangles25: @pc_rocks: @The_Stand_In: Steam gathers information about your computer regularly - often without your consent.

They have the right to sell your chats to third-parties. Yes, read their privacy policy.

https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/steam.html At this point everything is spyware. Steam is not some golden child.

Sorry but not going to click some random joe´s site so if you want to get your point across, can you link to a well-known and credible site that says the same?

Also again Steam is no more Spyware than Windows or even Tencent´s launcher.

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#34 Edited by OliverSnyders (143 posts) -

@vaeh: My big issues with them are account security and the way they go about getting exclusives. I'm constantly hearing about people getting their Epic accounts hacked.

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#35 Posted by Vaeh (442 posts) -

@The_Stand_In: If your reading comprehension doesn't not suck answer can be seen in my comments.

@vaeh said:

@Jacanuk: Steam gathers information about your computer regularly - often without your consent.

They have the right to sell your chats to third-parties. Yes, read their privacy policy.

https://spyware.neocities.org/articles/steam.html At this point everything is spyware. Steam is not some golden child.

https://store.steampowered.com/privacy_agreement/ I posted the wrong link of Steam's privacy policy.

@oliversnyders said:

@vaeh: My big issues with them are account security and the way they go about getting exclusives. I'm constantly hearing about people getting their Epic accounts hacked.

Never heard about the gaping remote execution and control exploit steam had for about 10 years before it was discovered I guess?

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/9k8qv5/steam-exploit-left-users-vulnerable-for-10-years

It wasn't even six months ago that Valve had two way more critical bugs which left not only 15 million steam accounts but in fact 15 million steam users' computers vulnerable to full takeover, which is like a hundred times worse.

https://hackerone.com/reports/470520

https://hackerone.com/reports/409850

There has been several other exploits found in steam over the years as well, like most software; it happens.

Also, the vbulletin vulnerability Epic had was fixed quite a while a go.

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#36 Posted by ocinom (996 posts) -

Still better than a Chinese Spyware

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#37 Posted by OliverSnyders (143 posts) -

@vaeh said:

@oliversnyders said:

@vaeh: My big issues with them are account security and the way they go about getting exclusives. I'm constantly hearing about people getting their Epic accounts hacked.

Never heard about the gaping remote execution and control exploit steam had for about 10 years before it was discovered I guess?

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/9k8qv5/steam-exploit-left-users-vulnerable-for-10-years

It wasn't even six months ago that Valve had two way more critical bugs which left not only 15 million steam accounts but in fact 15 million steam users' computers vulnerable to full takeover, which is like a hundred times worse.

https://hackerone.com/reports/470520

https://hackerone.com/reports/409850

There has been several other exploits found in steam over the years as well, like most software; it happens.

Also, the vbulletin vulnerability Epic had was fixed quite a while a go.

Thanks for the info. People complaining about hacked accounts on Epic game store usually don't look at Steam and realize it's basically the same shit.