Is Epic Games Store user data accessible by the Chinese government?
A recent rumor on social media suggested that Epic Games' store might be unsafe for users, owing to Chinese tech giant Tencent's involvement with Epic. Is there any reason to fear?
A thread on reddit rose to the front page recently, decrying Ubisoft for its always-online UPlay PC system, but also the new Epic Games Store.
Epic Games, known for the Unreal Engine and runaway shooter success story Fortnite, recently launched a digital store front to compete with Steam. Core gamers have been plenty sceptical since its launch, owing to continuing fragmentation of digital store fronts on PC, and Epic Games' willingness to pay to block games from appearing on other PC platforms.
The scepticism reached fever pitch in that reddit thread with almost 30,000 upvotes, citing Epic Games' Terms of Service, which seemed to state that any data you generate on the service can be used by Epic however they see fit. The poster extrapolated that it might include the sharing of information with Epic Games' investors, including Tencent.
Tencent is a massive Chinese tech company with vast investments in Western gaming interests. The Chinese company has also been cited for its involvement in China's somewhat terrifying 1984-like social credit system, which gamifies Chinese citizens' behavior. It follows the general wave of concern that global Chinese tech companies may be used by the Chinese government to access the data of foreign citizens.
Epic Games' Tim Sweeney has offered a response on the same reddit thread (thanks, DualShockers), stating that Epic Games doesn't grant Tencent (or others) any access to its customer data.
Without having a majority controlling share, simply owning a stake in Epic Games wouldn't necessarily give them automatic access to customer's data. A security consultant we work with also couldn't find any evidence that the Epic Games Store is sending information to Chinese servers, at least not directly. Given the amount of youngsters that play Fortnite, you would have to hope that Epic Games takes its data security seriously.
With Epic Games reportedly banking $3 billion in profit driven largely by Fortnite, hopefully, Epic will be able to remain sufficient without giving up any more shares to companies with questionable interests. At least for now, there's no real reason to think Epic is doing anything untoward with user data.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!