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PC gamers report that Epic launcher collects their Steam friends & play history, Epic Games responds

A few hours ago, Resetera’s member ‘Madjoki’ discovered that Epic Launcher collecting players’ Steam friends and play history. Going into more details, Madjoki found out that Epic Games Launcher on start up searches for Steam install and proceeds to get list of files in your Steam Cloud. This also includes game saves for every user that has logged in on your PC.

“Steam Cloud is stored under userdata\[account id]\ if you wanna check

It will also create encrypted copy of config\localconfig.vdf.
This file contains your steam friends, their name history (groups you’re part of, are considered “friends”).

It seems friends might be used for friends suggestions, but I don’t even use that feature and it collects more than that.

While it’s called “localhistory” it is synced from cloud

It will read, encrypt and then write copy to: C:\ProgramData\Epic\SocialBackup\RANDOM HEX CODE_STEAM ACCOUNT ID.bak
It will also keep historical entries there.”

Naturally, a lot of people were frustrated by this as they felt that Epic was spying on them, and that the Epic launcher should not have any access at their Steam friends and play history.

Epic Games has responded to these accusations, stating that it only imports your Steam friends with your explicit permission. Here is Epic’s full response.

“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). You can find the code here.

The UDP traffic highlighted in this post is a launcher feature for communication with the Unreal Editor. The source of the underlying system is available on github.

The majority of the launcher UI is implemented using web technology that is being rendered by Chromium (which is open source). The root certificate and cookie access mentioned above is a result of normal web browser start up.

The launcher scans your active processes to prevent updating games that are currently running. This information is not sent to Epic.

We only import your Steam friends with your explicit permission. 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.”