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FYI: Civ6 contains Red Shell Analytics Software

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by anandus, Jun 10, 2018.

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  1. anandus

    anandus Errorist

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    I read in this Reddit thread about the Red Shell-spyware which comes shipped with several games, amongst which Civilization 6.

    It sends at least:
    See also this Reddit thread

    You can see what other games on your system have this by doing a search for "Redshell.dll" / "RedshellSDK.dll" (on my system Kerbal Space Program had it too).

    Just wanted to let you know.
     
  2. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    Ah, it's been a while since we had a "spyware" thread.

    For the record, "spyware" is (these days) a rather emotionally-charged word that is used to describe "any software I don't like". Steam, by the definition applied to Red Shell, is spyware. So are these forums. By the definition applied to Red Shell. By the actual definition, none of these things are spyware.

    The key distinction that sets apart spyware from something like analytics is the lack of consent. Consent in this, rather vague way, is often applied by use of product EULA or similar. Now, you can disagree with this as much as you want, and here's the other key point. You're offered an opt-out. Or you should be (which is one of my problems with Steam; it buries the Hardware Survey bit quite deep). I'm currently looking at a large forum banner at the bottom of my browser window informing me of an ad delivery service provided by Curse LLC (that amusing only started popping up after GDPR became an enforced thing). I have a "Got it, thanks! or "Learn more".

    Does Red Shell offer an opt-out? As per one of the links handily provided in the reddit thread, yes, it does: https://forums.funcom.com/t/why-are-conan-exiles-sending-data-to-redshell/5043

    So really, it seems to me that this is a(nother) case of reddit drumming up drama under the vague pretense of "spyware". The Conan Exiles thread even explicitly state they may still end up using analytics in the future. Is it the consumer's right to be aware of these things, and ask to opt out of such programs? Absolutely. But as you can tell, it does. Which means if people had spent the time politely enquiring about it, instead of starting some kind of reddit witch hunt for the perpetrators of such a terrible crime, this wouldn't have even been a problem in the first place.
     
  3. Leyrann

    Leyrann Warlord

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    To be fair it gets suspicious the moment they're trying to smuggle it past you and get it on your pc.
     
  4. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Warlord

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    And it wouldn't be a problem if they didn't insert that kind of
    crap into games.
     
  5. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    They're not smuggling anything anywhere. It's integrated into the product, is completely legal, and doesn't do anything beyond provide analytics that help Firaxis debug game reports (and marketing analyse their consumer base). It's incredibly normal.

    Like I said, using popular examples such as Steam or this forum. Which I don't see people complaining about. Use the link I explicitly highlighted to opt-out of the service, if you don't want to participate. If your concern is your personal involvement in a service you did not ask for, that's all you need to do. That is the constructive thing to do.

    Calling something you don't understand "crap" is, well, not constructive. It doesn't reassure me that you're approaching this with an open mind and in good faith. If you want to understand why so many companies do this kind of thing, and subsequently why somebody offers a product to integrate into other pieces of software, then of course, I'd be happy to.
     
    Siptah, XplosiveLun and leandrombraz like this.
  6. Chefofrats

    Chefofrats Chieftain

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    I sent them an opt-out request, as specified in one of the links above. I'll report how it goes.
     
  7. Leyrann

    Leyrann Warlord

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    I'm not claiming it's not legal, I'm not claiming it's not integrated into the product.

    I'm claiming that if you try to get software on people's computers without them knowing while they'd like to know, then you're doing suspicious stuff. Again, legal or not.
     
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  8. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Well, technically it's a DLL like the one for Bink (video playing I guess), Havokscript (for civ6 Lua scripts, much faster than civ5 Lua) and Steam DRM (you know that one)

    Like the others it's installed in the same folder as the game's exe, it can run only when the game is running, uninstall the game and it's gone with it.

    Edit : if I understand what it does correctly, it's used to tell 2kgames/firaxis when you launch the game if you had previously clicked on an ad about the game (or it's DLC) using an UID of your computer (set by the info in OP)

    And it seems that you can opt out, it's only if that's not working that I'd agree on the "suspicious stuff" part. But my first impression is indeed to see it as an overreaction from steam/reddit.

    Still I won't say that's a useless reaction, opting out should be an option during the installation process, and overreacting is sadly one of the only way to get heard those times.

    (so if people would start to overreact to the lack of information about the source code, I'd be very happy)
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
    Equilin, tzu, BlackSmokeDMax and 4 others like this.
  9. leif erikson

    leif erikson Game of the Month Fanatic Administrator Supporter GOTM Staff

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    But, really, you agreed to it when you loaded the software because this is in the End User Licensing Agreement:
    I understand very few of us actually read it, but maybe we should before we "buy" the game. I agree with Gorbles above, it is a tool used to evaluate player's interaction with the software.
     
  10. UWHabs

    UWHabs Warlord

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    Yeah, I mean, whether they built something into code themselves to grab info and send it back to their server for analysis, or use a 3rd party tool, it's the same thing. Yes, people should be upset that it's not clear when you install/run the game the first time that this info is collected. But calling it "spyware" yes is an overreaction. When I hear spyware, I'm thinking stuff that's collecting info when I'm not running the game, or when you install something and it also tries to install like a "Norton Toolbar" or something stupid like that. And this doesn't seem to be anything like that (although, obviously, you have to be careful that it doesn't turn into something like that).
     
  11. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    The inference was on me, sorry. Though, to be fair, when people cite "smuggling", they don't cite it because smuggling is a fair and above-board kind of action. Do they? :p

    I think you underestimate the sheer amount of middleware shipped with your average AAA title. Font engines (TrueType), sound engines (FMOD, WWise), physics engines (Havok) . . . none of which are owned by Firaxis or 2K and all of which do their own things. Analytics is just another piece of the product. It's fine that you want to know, but I'm urging you to think on the kind of source you're endorsing to do so, here. We can have a good discussion on consumer advocacy without buying into a reddit thread that has all the hallmarks of jumping on the developers themselves (which is often a source of trouble) for choosing a particular piece of middleware.

    And most definitely, it's not spyware.
     
    Noble Zarkon likes this.
  12. leif erikson

    leif erikson Game of the Month Fanatic Administrator Supporter GOTM Staff

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  13. Arent11

    Arent11 Chieftain

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    Interesting. I'm not using Steam for this exact reason. But I'll have to keep an eye out for these additional dll's.
     
  14. God of Kings

    God of Kings Ruler of all heads of state

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    What about those who play using the Mac App Store version or the iOS App Store version, the two being the only legal non-Steam options for Civ VI?
     
  15. Magma_Dragoon

    Magma_Dragoon Reploid

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    telemetry is the future we chose by not submitting detailed bug reports
     
  16. God of Kings

    God of Kings Ruler of all heads of state

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    I have checked every Civ VI file in my MacBook Pro and Red Shell is not there. I use the Mac App Store version.

    It means that the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store version of Civ VI don't have the analytics software.

    It's Red Shell or Apple's own analytics (which can be declined by the user). Mac App Store is required for all Macs beginning with Lion. iOS App Store is required for all iOS products.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  17. Ferocitus

    Ferocitus Warlord

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    It's because they are providing another security hole.
    Including a few mealy-mouthed disclaimers in fine print is "crap",
    so yes, you're right, I'm not approaching it with an open mind.
     
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  18. BlackSmokeDMax

    BlackSmokeDMax Chieftain

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    There is a vast difference between programs that are part of running the program and those that are designed to report back to marketing and advertising.

    Go to the Red Shell website, take a look and see if that is something you think needs to be on your computer. Is that something you would voluntarily install? And if it was designed just to see which ads were seen before purchasing the game, why is it still running long, long after purchase and install? How likely is it they are telling the truth about all the data they are collecting?
     
  19. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    That's overtly unfair to the player base. Bug reports even on objective bugs are openly ignored in many cases. Despite that there are still plenty, presumably it's dev/programmer time that hits the bottleneck.

    You don't solve such project management failures with telemetry.

    Collecting/storing data has risks. It can be compromised, so if you're going to grab + keep information there should ideally be a good use-case reason. This kind of software isn't anything along the lines of Civ 5's initial false advertising about MP but it's still not a pleasant thing.
     
  20. Arent11

    Arent11 Chieftain

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    That's the old "stick to the dictionary" argument. But people simply don't do that. Spyware is a derogatory term for any kind of abusive data collection. Software isn't called "spyware" because it collects data (civilization forums), it's called spyware when the data doesn't end up in the places where it is supposed to be or is used to gain some insights people find scary (We know where you live, what your political inclinations are, your sexual preferences etc.). All this can be done with consent & people will still feel that you are "spying" on them.

    I understand that some people get worked up when language doesn't adhere to their dictionary. But dictionaries *record* language, they don't define it. And I have never, ever seen someone use the term "spyware" with regards to whether consent is given or not.
     
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