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Spying with Google Analytics

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I actually read the EULA (yes, I did) and it contains the following sentences:

--- snip ---

By accepting this Agreement, you agree to our use of such technology, software and services, including, without limitation, Google Analytics. Use of such third party software or services is subject to the terms and conditions of the applicable third party license agreements, and you agree to look solely to the applicable third party and not to Double Fine to enforce any of your rights in relation thereto.

--- snip ---

Now this is an interesting twist concerning privacy violations basically saying "We use a third party tool to collect information on you thus we don't have to tell you and if you really want to know you will have to look in an unnamed document stored at an unnamed location."

Anyone feeling like Arthur Dent in front of his house?

So Double Fine: If you want to collect data, YOU have to tell me what you collect, how you are aggregating it and how you are promising to maintain my privacy. Independent of which tools you are using. Otherwise I will try to resist you.

Anyone knows how to block Google Analytics connections on Linux without installing a locale DNS to spoof the FQDN?

[Edit]

According to post 61 transmission of data to Google Analytics can now be switched off.

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O hai tin foil hat guy with one post. Ever think that maybe because the game is in beta GA might be good for tracking bugs et al? Then in turn making the game better.

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Anyone knows how to block Google Analytics connections on Linux without installing a locale DNS to spoof the FQDN?

Not sure the tin foil is required here but if you're set on it add this to your hosts file

127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com

127.0.0.1 google-analytics.com

127.0.0.1 ssl.google-analytics.com

There may be more than that but its a start, there's also a few premade host files out there in internet land u can copy and paste that'll block every tracking and advertising service around if you're super keen

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Lol. It sounds like they took a generic EULA and stuck it in there to me.

Anyways, I, for one, am more than happy for them to be monitoring my mouse clicks in the game (if that IS what they're doing), as I hope it will lead to better experience once the game is finally finished.

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oh noes! dubble fin is gunna to steal ur interwebs!

Seriously though, a lot of games use Analytics for Quality Assurance, It won't be sending any private information and is simply so they can see how well it runs on different machines. Nothing to worry about.

/edit: okay, so it is not just system info. But still, QA is important.

I for one welcome our Double Fine overlords.

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Wow. It's pretty awesome to spy on your backers? That has to be a definition of "awesome" I've not come across yet.

If there's one thing that gets me going more than steam, it's privacy issues. I certainly don't want to be tracked while I play a video game, and especially not by anything connected to google o.O

I do hope that's just for beta purposes.

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Has anyone actually monitored their traffic? Like Wireshark or something? Because I've never heard of GA being used like this. Maybe they offer this now, but usually people use different tools, if they want to record player behavior.

//Edit

Okay forget what I said, apparently that's a thing now (using GA in this context). *sigh*

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Those legalese you quoted should not scare you or seem odd at all. Google Analytics has had that wording for a very long time. Google Analytics is not a bad thing. I work for a large e-commerce company, and we - as well as pretty much any large site out there - uses GA. It's always to tailor the site (or in this case game) better to the actual demographics who are using it. For example, if we see we have middle-aged women from Florida viewing certain products on our site, we will buy and design a lot more beach-themed items.

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That may be true, regardless, it would have been nice to add an option to disable it for people who don't want it; even EA put an option to disable their "automatic feedback" into Mass Effect 3. It's not a free product, we paid for it. I also wonder if the DRM free version will have the same stuff in it.

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That may be true, regardless, it would have been nice to add an option to disable it for people who don't want it; even EA put an option to disable their "automatic feedback" into Mass Effect 3. It's not a free product, we paid for it. I also wonder if the DRM free version will have the same stuff in it.

Actually, you only buy the permission to play the game legally, you don't "own" games anymore. If you want to go all legalese on it.

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Well, I'm not quite as fussed as I could be, considering it's the beta. Leaving aside that I'm not playing it anyway, you can argue that it's part of whatever betaing process is going on, I guess. Though in that case, it should have been communicated better (that is to say, communicated at all, before the launch). If it's still in the DRM-free version (whenever that comes ...), it's a real issue, and should the game then actually require being online while playing ... well, it's speculation at this point. We'll see that when we get there, I guess.

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Okay

1. It's reporting software not DRM. It just sits there and probably lets them know when you get to what etc.

2. Practically every site on the internet uses GA, it's a useful thing for people that actually make things.

3. It won't require always on, if its not online it just won't report back

4. GA in no way restricts your playing of this game, they aren't delivering ads in game so its probably to track some inane stat so they can fix things, it uses up zero resources on your part.

5. If this is the single reason you aren't playing the game you are pretty fickle being, to get hung up on this instead of experiencing a great story is moronic.

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Wow. It's pretty awesome to spy on your backers? That has to be a definition of "awesome" I've not come across yet.

If there's one thing that gets me going more than steam, it's privacy issues. I certainly don't want to be tracked while I play a video game, and especially not by anything connected to google o.O

I do hope that's just for beta purposes.

Disclaimer: I don't know what DF is doing. The following is based on my own experience as a developer, not on any insight into what DF is doing.

It's pretty common for apps to track what you do inside them. Mainly, devs are interested in finding out which features you use, which screens you spend a lot of time on, information about crashes, stuff like that. A lot of developers do this, including Microsoft. If you use Windows, Microsoft knows how you use it.

Particularly for games, this is important data, and allows developers to make improvements. Is there a puzzle that a lot of people have trouble with? Is there another puzzle that people get right immediately, and may be too easy? Is there a dialog tree people never see? Does the game crash in a specific situation for many users? And so on.

In my opinion, this isn't really the same as "tracking" you. Word might keep track of which features you use and which buttons you click on, but it doesn't keep track of what documents you write. The goal here isn't to use this data to find out information about you, it's to use the data to find out how to improve the application. Generally, the data is completely anonymous, and is not stored in a way that associates it with you personally.

Having said that, two points:

First, I agree that devs should ask users whether they're okay with this before they start sending data to the mothership.

Second, I agree that using Google for this is bad, because Google actually is interested in you personally.

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@ObsessedChannel: Well, yes :P

Almost every site does use Google Analytics, often Adsense as well, and then there's the score of other trackers, facebook, DoubleClick, Quantcast ... etc. So I use tools to block them. I'm not being inconsistent here, if that is what you're asking. I don't much feel like having companies follow me through the internet. If there's no switch in the game, though, the only thing I can do is to basically pull out the network cable.

@LKM: That's what I figured, but right, I'd like to be asked, and no google in-between (even though that's probably an easy way for the dev to set it up, if it comes ready-made). It's clear that developers like to have as much information as possible, but I feel it has to be balanced with how much information the user is willing to give up. And if someone was uncomfortable with it, there should be the option of turning it off. Completely.

(That said, from Windows I wouldn't expect any less, similarly not from "free" apps or programs -- I'm paying for it in some way, information of how much time I spend where and do what is valuable, after all.)

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It seems we need a new name for when people get upset about things... just because they can.

If you want to block ALL such things, just add:

127.0.0.1 http://www.google-analytics.com

127.0.0.1 google-analytics.com

127.0.0.1 ssl.google-analytics.com

to your HOSTS file. Or just kill your internet connection.

And ENIGMA: Google Analytics is NOT a "tracker". It anonymously records your usage for a given website. It's free. Why not create an account and see for yourself.

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@ThunderPeel: Whom are you talking to? o.O

Enigma, if you're using "tools" (I'm guessing a modified HOSTS file) to block these things, then they will be blocking it for you in Broken Age, too.

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The logic of the Google Analytics apologists here is beyond me.

They claim it's OK to use GA (without the users consent or a opt-in solution) because:

- A lot of other companys do this

- Google says it's anonymous

- It's OK to record your metrics because it's just data

How stupid can one be? As if Google wouldn't use the gathered information for themselves. As if Google would not register that IP-Adress a.b.c.d is playing Broken Age. As if Google wouldn't use this information for advertising and add it to your profile if you are logged in to ANY of it's services from the same IP address.

"But, it's free! See for yourselves! It's totally anonymous."

Yeah, that's how big billion-dollar companies operate today! They are just interested in producing free products for the benefit of all mankind. Right. There should be a new definition of free. "Free like Facebook".

To be clear: I can accept gathering metrics of a BETA, but it should have been communicated up front when starting the game ("This game uses Google Analytics to gather gameplay related information..."). It would be unacceptable in the finished game.

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The logic of the Google Analytics apologists here is beyond me.

They claim it's OK to use GA (without the users consent or a opt-in solution) because:

You consented when you agreed to the EULA. Please don't accuse other people of lacking in logic and then go and claim that this was done without consent.

And again: 99% of websites use Google Analytics. It's worth mentioning, I think.

Finally, this is why a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Without COOKIES it's impossible, technically absolutely and totally utterly impossible, for Google Analytics to be "tracking" YOU. What's more, anyone can see what cookies ARE being sent and used by GA -- and guess what -- they don't track you.

Claiming otherwise based on your own opinions about big corporations is like claiming that Uncle Bens places tiny cameras in each grain of rice.

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Eh, hiding behind EULA is such an EA thing to do though... They should have explicitly stated in newsletter that they use metrics in this build, it would be much more honest of them.

If I knew that before starting the game I would have actually whitelisted Broken Age in my firewall - now I feel like a dick for not helping DF with their stats.

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As if Google wouldn't use this information for advertising and add it to your profile if you are logged in to ANY of it's services from the same IP address.

Oh no! You mean Google now knows that I play adventure games and might advertise those to me instead of penis drugs?! My world is crumbling around me!

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Oh no! You mean Google now knows that I play adventure games and might advertise those to me instead of penis drugs?! My world is crumbling around me!

Ha. The thing is: Google can't track you via your IP address. Think about how many people use your WIFI -- they all use the same IP address. Or when you go to Starbucks. That's a different IP address (Google doesn't know it's you). Or when you're at your friends, or at work, or on a plane, etc. That's all different IP addresses.

Advertisers aren't going to pay good money to advertise adventure games to your Mum, or your Wife, or your sneaky WIFI-stealing neighbour, nevermind everyone else in Starbucks, just because YOU happen to be playing Broken Age.

Without cookies (eg. when you're logged into something), they have no idea who's using the machine. And even WITH cookies, it's only a guess (a much better guess, admittedly).

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Guys, obviously some of you care less about your privacy than others, and that's fine, but please don't make fun of those of us who are concerned about privacy. Researchers have shown time and time again that even when the data is supposedly anonymized, it's really not anonymous, and every little bit of data helps identify you uniquely:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/09/your-secrets-live-online-in-databases-of-ruin/

I don't object to collecting usage stats in a beta release, but in my opinion the ethical thing to do is ask for users' consent. Since it clearly does bother some people, who paid for the game before consenting to any EULAs, Double Fine should give those people a way to opt out.

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My Take

- Google Analytics is already in MANY MANY applications, I would expect that a huge % of all Android and iOS app store apps have it.

- It isn't really so much about marketing as tracking actions and trends... I suspect DoubleFine is able to track things like the % of players that click on random objects, the number of times an object is clicked, how much time a player spends on each screen in the game.. ETC.

- this is hardly a new thing in gaming... Mass Effect had a lot of player stats released about who picks what class etc...

- If you need foil, go get a really good home firewall and filter / block all outgoing traffic.. Failing to read the EULA and then bitching about which method of Analytic collection is being used is silly.

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Enigma, if you're using "tools" (I'm guessing a modified HOSTS file) to block these things, then they will be blocking it for you in Broken Age, too.

Actually, since I usually use Opera, the hosts file doesn't work. There are extensions (Addons, for Firefox users) though that can e.g. block the tracking cookies. That aside, it's also good to have JavaScript defaulted off, and generally delete all cookies when you close your browser. However, I recently heard that google is starting to recognise you even without the tracking cookies -- just through your behaviour and general machine data. The algorithms are getting better, there's not a whole lot you can do about that.

As for the game, right, I pointed out what I can do (using the firewall should work too, I guess), it's just that I shouldn't have to. A switch in the settings menu and/or a request during the startup would be the correct thing to do.

Edit:

@Lazybones, the thing is that many of the Adventure game players (and this includes me, I don't mind saying that at all) are as "old-school" as the game was supposed to be. I don't play games that use steam, call home, require always-on or any of the other newfangled stuff. I also don't have facebook, never user twitter, possess no smartphone and don't consider it necessary to live in the internet 24/7.

And typically, the adventure games still made nowadays recognise this target audience, and offer something to fit that. That, incidentally, is how I still can play video games and not have Steam, as some users here disbelievingly asked: I play few video games, and usually only adventure games.

The point being: "hardly a new thing in gaming" ... maybe, but then I don't play Mass Effect. And I'd very much like if Broken Age was Broken Age, and not Mass Effect.

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The logic of the Google Analytics apologists here is beyond me.

They claim it's OK to use GA (without the users consent or a opt-in solution) because:

You consented when you agreed to the EULA. Please don't accuse other people of lacking in logic and then go and claim that this was done without consent.

And again: 99% of websites use Google Analytics. It's worth mentioning, I think.

Finally, this is why a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Without COOKIES it's impossible, technically absolutely and totally utterly impossible, for Google Analytics to be "tracking" YOU. What's more, anyone can see what cookies ARE being sent and used by GA -- and guess what -- they don't track you.

Claiming otherwise based on your own opinions about big corporations is like claiming that Uncle Bens places tiny cameras in each grain of rice.

Wow, did you just edited your post. I could swear my e-mail notifications shows you writing:

"Four words: END USE LICENSE AGREEMENT"?

Oh, I think you did. Well CAPS-BOY, I did not claim it was illegal. I said it was without consent. And clicking "Accept" an a multi-page long EULA is not the same as giving explicit consent. It merely means: I want to play the game now. In some countries there are laws that state that "suprising clauses" in EULAs are invalid. Which makes sense: Otherwise why not just add "All your money belongs to us" somewhere in a hundred page long EULA.

99% of website usee GA. That is probably the reason why AdBlock and NoScript are among the most popular addons in Firefox.

Ha. The thing is: Google can’t track you via your IP address. Think about how many people use your WIFI—they all use the same IP address. Or when you go to Starbucks. That’s a different IP address (Google doesn’t know it’s you). Or when you’re at your friends, or at work, or on a plane, etc. That’s all different IP addresses.

Cookies are not neccessary for tracking. GA (or any other service that is used in multiple pages or applications) can track you simply by matching your browser fingerprint and your IP address. You have no clue on how tracking works, do you? Yeah it's absolutly possible to tracking users behind a NAT. Talking about

Also the fact that you are re-editing about half of your posts in this thread tells a lot about you and your opinions.

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My Take

- Google Analytics is already in MANY MANY applications, I would expect that a huge % of all Android and iOS app store apps have it.

That should never be a reason for anything.

- It isn't really so much about marketing as tracking actions and trends... I suspect DoubleFine is able to track things like the % of players that click on random objects, the number of times an object is clicked, how much time a player spends on each screen in the game.. ETC.

For Google it's always about marketing because that's their primary source of income. So yes, they will sell the data they gather - mostly indirect by allowing "better" targeted advertising which means higher prices for ads.

Regarding DF: Yes, they can probably get metrics like that (it was already mentioned in some post about a year ago I think...) but what would they gain? Surely they won't go back to the drawing board to revise the game based on that because it's a little too late for that. So what's the point?

- this is hardly a new thing in gaming... Mass Effect had a lot of player stats released about who picks what class etc...

I do not see a benefit for the player to be honest... But of course that's not what tracking and getting meta data is about.

- If you need foil, go get a really good home firewall and filter / block all outgoing traffic.. Failing to read the EULA and then bitching about which method of Analytic collection is being used is silly.

Do you read all EULAs of every application and game? It should not be necessary to read all that stuff if companies just sticked to a basic principle: You get what you pay for. If you pay for a game you get a game. That means no ad-ware, no spy-ware, no-tracking.

Imagine going to the super market and the clerk puts a mandatory bug on each an every thing you bought to "gather data on how fast you consume our products".

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Actually, you only buy the permission to play the game legally, you don't "own" games anymore. If you want to go all legalese on it.

Although this has nothing to do with what I said, actually nothing changed. You don't own games any more or less now than anyone ever did, because it was always a license you bought. Even many years ago when people still thought they owned stuff. But whatever.

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