Civ 6 Steam EULA Change Grants Spyware-Level Data Collection Permission For 2K Games

The EULA agreement for Civilization VI has been changed to allow for the collection of large amounts of personal information from players. The information now legally eligible for collection includes age, gender, date of birth, location, and IP address. The news follows last summer’s revelation that the game (among several others) included the psuedo-spyware Red Shell, which served as an ad tracker.

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The new, invasive changes to the EULA have courted outraged reactions from gamers on the Steam store, who have begun to protest the change by posting negative reviews en masse. News of the game’s data mining begun to provoke negative reactions last week, and Take-Two’s EULA is yet to be changed. According to NDTV, the cumulative data that the EULA states is eligible for collection is staggering: “The information we collect may include personal information such as your first and/or last name, e-mail address, phone number, photo, mailing address, geolocation, or payment information. In addition, we may collect your age, gender, date of birth, zip code, hardware configuration, console ID, software products played, survey data, purchases, IP address and the systems you have played on. We may combine the information with your personal information and across other computers or devices that you may use.”

The agreement was updated on January 22, 2018, and refers back to the privacy policy on 2K’s website, last updated in May during the height of the Red Shell crisis. Red Shell was an ad-tracker built into several games including Civilization VI, The Elder Scrolls Online, Conan Exiles, Hunt: Showdown. The tool was installed alongside the game and collected various information from the player’s system, including OS, browser version number, and IP address. This data would then be used to analyze how effective the game’s advertising had been, letting studios measure how convincing their marketing campaigns had been. Following severe fan backlash, the tool was removed from many of these titles, including Civ VI. In another badly-thought out move, Red Shell also shared its name with an old piece of malware. While the software did not run code outside of the games it was bundled with, that was, rightly so, enough to bring a massive controversy down upon them. Until this change was made, Civilization VI had proven to be just as popular as its predecessors, with many of those now protesting the agreement being Civilization veterans, with hundreds or thousands of hours in-game to their name.

Via trustedreviews.com

Developers and publishers overstepping their boundaries is far from a new occurrence. In the mid-00s, DRM software Starforce (not to be confused with Space Force), installed its own device driver onto the user’s PC, which was generally not uninstalled when the game was. Players and critics accused the software of causing system instability and crashes. Gradually, the software fell out of favor with publishers, due, in a large part, to the controversy that surrounded it.

While developers should be allowed to collect some information to help make their game better, there needs to be a limit placed upon the amount and depth of such data that is collected. The publisher has no justifiable reason to want to collect your geolocation data, or system information. This cannot be seen as anything more than an invasion of privacy, and should be removed by 2K.

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