OS X Civ V Brave New World = Spyware?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by co22, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. co22 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington DC area
    #1
    Yesterday I downloaded the latest DLC for Civilization V called "Brave New World" from Steam. Every time I launch the game, it not only tries to "phone home" to Aspyr (apl.aspyr.com and gameguide.aspyr.com), but also to third party sites newrelic.com and google-analytics.com!

    While I'd prefer that software asked for my permission before initiating any outbound network connections, I can at least understand that they want to phone home to check for updates or report crashes so that they can provide their customers with better software. But when they start reporting my data to Google Analytics and NewRelic, I'm pretty sure it's not for my benefit.

    Fortunately, I run Little Snitch on my MacBook and I immediately blocked all connections from Civ V to google-analytics.com and newrelic.com, but it still pisses me off! When are these greedy bastards finally going to get a clue about not abusing their customers' privacy? :mad::mad::mad:
     
  2. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #2
    That is very interesting. I have no idea what NewRelic is and actually I don't know what Google analytics is used for either specifically.

    Are you sure these connections are initiated by the game and not something else? If they are, there must be some reason Aspyr would do this that would be game related somehow I would think.

    Transparency about stuff like this is a good idea though in my opinion because it heads off misunderstanding at the pass.

    I hope Aspyr-Blair comes along here and has a comment to make about your findings. I'd be very interested in reading that.

    On a bright note, Gamespot rated the expansion a 9.5 out of 10 and that kind of score isn't handed out very often there. :)

    As for privacy, there is none in this world anymore unless you live alone on a mountain somewhere without any form of communications to the outside world. Otherwise, chances are pretty good the NSA knows about you, who you talk to, what web sites you visit, the contents of your emails, the audio of your phone calls, what television shows you watch, your political and sexual orientations and probably what games you are playing too. There's no such thing as privacy except "maybe" in the shower.
     
  3. NickRichyRich macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    #3
    Would be interesting to see what data was being sent, and how they actually use that data.
     
  4. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #4
    Well, considering Aspyr-Blair does visit these forums I expect he'll see this and respond to the post with some clarification about what data is being used and how, etc.

    I'm glad the OP posted about this. I'll be very interested to learn why the phoning home on no less than four lines.
     
  5. SingularityG macrumors 6502

    SingularityG

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2012
    #5
    Very interesting. The expansion just popped up in the Mac App Store, too. Can someone else confirm this?
     
  6. jcbhammond macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    #6
    Newrelic.com is used by developers to monitor and find issues in an app for future releases and tweaks. Google analytics is probably just being used to see how many people are using the app and when to determine future server requirements and for statistics purposes. I too find it interesting that this is happening but can certainly see the reasons for it. Just wish they had told us. Probably hidden away in that EULA that everyone spends time reading:cool:
     
  7. fivedots, Jul 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013

    fivedots macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    #7
    Some of this probably comes from the new launcher which advertises other Aspyr games, etc. prior to starting Civ V. It's likely a web wrapper of sorts.

    I've got Brave New World. I really wish this game ran better on my mac (15" rMBP). Even at the recommended/default graphic settings, there is so much texture redrawing when I scroll around. It's very frustrating. Brave New World was a marked improvement in interface speed, load time, and turn speed, but I'm still frustrated by the sub-par graphics performance that has persisted since vanilla.

    Overall, I like the expansion quite a bit. I felt like Gods & Kings really should've been the vanilla Civ V and that Brave New World feels like a true expansion. I suppose my only concern is that the cultural victory seems quite a bit more interesting than the others, like science for example, because of all the tweaks.

    I also very much wish Steam Workshop functioned with the Mac version.
     
  8. Aspyr-Blair, Jul 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013

    Aspyr-Blair macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2012
    Location:
    Austin Tx
    #8
    Just saw this guys, apologies for the delay. I'm really sorry the updated launcher threw up red flags for you co22. Other posters here are exactly right in that NewRelic is used to find issues with the app/game itself and Google Analytics is used to tell us in statistical fashion how you interact with the launcher, so that we can figure out a way to make the launcher more useful to whomever is interacting with it.

    Let me be clear here because we are SUPER HARDCORE about this. Your data will NEVER, EVER....EVER EVER EVER be given to anyone else.

    In fact, we dont have your personal data. The only personal data from you that we would could have, would be if you gave it to us directly. Example: registering the game or submitting a support ticket with your computer specs. Even then, all we have is your email address and what game you own. All analytics is tracking here is how many times an icon/button gets clicked on. Thats the thing, we dont even know "who" is clicking those buttons. We just know how many times they get clicked.

    Bottom line, we want to get better and being able to see how gamers interact with the launcher is a great way to do just that. The vast majority of launchers in gaming do the exact same thing and I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of launchers also are not collecting any personal data on you. That would be just wrong man.
     
  9. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #9
    Thank you very much. I expected it was this basically and wasn't worried about it myself although I was interested in whatever this stuff was doing just out of curiosity.
     
  10. co22 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington DC area
    #10
    No way to opt out?

    Hi Aspyr-Blair,

    I appreciate the reply, and I appreciate the fact that you're trying to make your products better. However, there are two important considerations that you haven't addressed, at least not to my satisfaction. These are:

    (1) I would strongly disagree that the vast majority of launchers in gaming do the exact same thing. I own lots of games and many of them have launchers, but most don't automatically initiate any outbound network traffic. Of those that do send data back to the developer, most ask for permission to collect and send the information. Your software, however, does not ask for my permission and does not give me the ability to opt-out. Why not be open and honest with your customers, tell them what you're collecting and sending, and ask for their consent to do so?

    (2) Your launcher attempts to "phone home" even when I've put Steam into off-line mode. I usually do this when I am traveling and don't want to run up those outrageously expensive data roaming charges. Why doesn't your software recognize that Steam is running in off-line mode, and stop trying to phone home?

    Looking forward to your responses!
     
  11. co22 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Location:
    Washington DC area
    #11
    Yes, I'm sure it's the game initiating the connections. Yes, transparency about what information is being collected about us (and how it's used) would be a wonderful thing. Yes, it's a great game and a great expansion pack.

    As for privacy, or lack of privacy, I expect our founding fathers must be turning in their graves right about now. IMHO, the reason we no longer have any privacy is because nobody is willing to stand up for and demand it. Where are the demonstrators protesting the NSA's spying on us? Where is the media which is supposed to inform us and raise hell when the Government and corporations trample on our privacy? (Oh, right, all of the networks and most of the newspapers are owned by large corporations that are part of the problem). Where are this current generation of hippies when you need them? It's not up to the old farts like me, it's up to the younger generation to stand up for our rights and liberties... :p
     
  12. davecom macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    #12
    Honestly bro I don't think the founding fathers would give a **** whether some game company is looking where you click in a launcher. Yes, they should provide an opt-out/explicit dialog requesting the user's consent, but let's quit the hyperbole. Aspyr is more transparent than many companies, as evidenced by their continued participation in internet forums over many years.

    That said, I'm glad you raised the issue, and I bet they'll listen.
     
  13. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000

    Dirtyharry50

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    #13
    Well, if they anything like the hippies of old, don't expect too much of them. I once had a good laugh at a children's television show that inserted little comments here and there (it was a cartoon) to entertain the adults also who would be hearing it, etc. One mother was talking to another and it went like this:

    The sixties are over. We lost. Get over it.

    I probably should not have laughed actually but it did strike me funny.
     
  14. co22 thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 1, 2011
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    Washington DC area
    #14
    Agreed, and sometimes hyperbole is an effective way to get your point across. :D
     

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