Steam data mining accusations prompt Epic Games response

Earlier this week, Epic Games was accused of mining users’ Steam data and sending information back to the company. Now the Fortnite developers have responded to the accusations of Steam data mining. Epic’s VP of engineering and Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney have spoken about the accusations.

A Reddit thread posted on March 13 laid bare a number of Steam data mining software attached to the Epic Games Store. According to that thread, the Epic Games Store accessed Steam files and transmitted data back to Epic without the user’s knowledge. There was also concern in the thread that user data was being given to other companies like Tencent, and even countries like China.

Epic’s VP of engineering Daniel Vogel responded in the thread.

“We only import your Steam friends with your explicit permission,” he said. “The launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file. However information from this file is only sent to Epic if you choose to import your Steam friends, and then only hashed IDs of your friends are sent and no other information from the file.”

He continued by stating that “Epic is controlled by Tim Sweeney” and Epic has “lots of external shareholders, none of whom have access to customer data.” Vogel also noted that the launcher only scans active processes to prevent game updates for games currently running. According to Vogel, the only information about Steam sent to Epic are the “hashed IDs of a user’s friends.”

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney also responded in the thread, admitting that the users had rightful concerns over the Steam data mining.

“It’s actually my fault for pushing the launcher team to support it super quickly and then identifying that we had to change it,” said the CEO. “Since this issue came to the forefront we’re going to fix it.”

Sweeney responded several other times in the thread, discussing with a number of redditors some of the Epic Games Store’s minutiae. The company launched the storefront in December 2018 to compete in a market dominated by Steam by using Fortnite to draw users in.