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Unity3D Games "Phone Home" With Details Of Your Hardware & Software

Posted by Matt, | Views: 19,386
A tweet sent out by the Unity engine folks earlier about their stats page mentions that all Unity games automatically send your data to them on the first launch. This is interesting and worrying.

It's interesting because we have another avenue of checking up on how Linux is doing, and worrying because they send out software and hardware information without notice (and I never knew this!).

Linux seems to be pretty low overall:
Windows Player: 95.5%
OS X Player: 4.3%
Linux Player: 0.1%
Source

It's interesting as we can see that for Unity based games, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are top of the Linux distribution food chain:
Ubuntu: 61.4%
Mint: 15.0%
unknown: 12.6%
Linux 3.2 (Canaima 3.1): 3.1%
Manjaro: 2.0%
Arch: 2.0%
Elementary: 1.6%
Debian: 1.2%
Suse: 0.8%
Source

Quote taken from their official page:
QuoteWhen installed, a Unity game submits anonymous hardware details. This is done only once, and does not contain any personally identifiable information (see the privacy policy for what exactly gets sent). We compute statistics of this information. This can be incredibly helpful for Unity game developers in helping them to make good content decisions and optimize performance of their games.

I don't want to worry anyone here, but it's important that people know this is happening. Any bugs in this could easily send over private data by accident. Worse things have happened, so should this really be something that goes on silently?

There is no opt-out of this data collection either which is also a bit worrying as, again, it's all done behind the scenes.

How many of you knew Unity games did this? What do you think about it? I would be interested to see if people are as worried as me, or if they feel Unity should be trusted with our silently collected data?
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mirv 13 October 2014 at 12:24 pm UTC
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I view that as an invasion of privacy. The user should always be asked for consent before sending such information out. Had I known....well, I suddenly don't feel like using any Unity based games anymore.
lave 13 October 2014 at 12:28 pm UTC
:/ disappointing. but i bet most people wont care (which is just as disappointing)

btw
QuoteIt's interesting as we can see that for Unity based games, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are top of the Linux distribution food chain
you make that sound like its something unexpected?
Sslaxx 13 October 2014 at 12:30 pm UTC
GameMaker Studio also does this, I believe. I'd not be surprised if CryEngine or UE4 does too.
camoceltic 13 October 2014 at 12:34 pm UTC
mirvI view that as an invasion of privacy. The user should always be asked for consent before sending such information out. Had I known....well, I suddenly don't feel like using any Unity based games anymore.

Exactly. They didn't exactly hide the info, but it's like writing a note and leaving it on a table: Sure, the info is there and anyone can read it, but there's no indication that there's even important info on it. Unless you check, you're not sure what it's about.

Personally, I'm getting really ticked off with the developers of Unity. Not only have they continued to ignore the most requested editor feature by far, a Linux version, but they've also continued to ignore Linux users when it comes to the Unity Web client thing. Then I find this is going on? Screw Unity. At this point, I don't want anything to do with it.
Switches 13 October 2014 at 12:35 pm UTC
It's "anonymous hardware details", Steam does the same thing each month. It's a little off that they do it without the user knowing but meh.

I think it will stir another pot for a lot of people and the FUD will start flying again about the whole "Privacy" stuff.
mirv 13 October 2014 at 12:38 pm UTC
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SwitchesIt's "anonymous hardware details", Steam does the same thing each month. It's a little off that they do it without the user knowing but meh.

I think it will stir another pot for a lot of people and the FUD will start flying again about the whole "Privacy" stuff.

If it's anon details, then they can show us better what is being sent, where it's being sent, and for what purpose it is being sent. Doing it without user consent means they can pretty much change it to send other, perhaps more private and identifiable, data at any time. Slippery slope & all that.
Segata Sanshiro 13 October 2014 at 12:47 pm UTC
I do think this is pretty bad and they should really ask before doing that, some people may even be willing to participate if it helps fix bugs.

But then again those with Facebook or smartphones may as well get rid of those before complaining about Unity since the data they pick up and distribute is far more sensitive.

Also, I'm not really sure how those figures are taken, but 0.1% seems far too low for Linux and completely contradicts the Steam Hardware Survey and sales figures for games we see on here now and again. The distro share is also very different to our own survey. Might be worth contacting them to ask if they take data from ALL players or just a few.
oldrocker99 13 October 2014 at 12:58 pm UTC
This is indeed disturbing; at least Steam tells you what is happening. IF it is truly nothing but anonymous hardware data, I guess it's OK, but they should have told us a lot earlier.

And, yes, 0.1% Linux users is way, way under reporting the actual numbers. I believe Steam's stats, and I certainly don't believe these, although their distro figures seem about right.
Skully 13 October 2014 at 1:03 pm UTC
Beamboom 13 October 2014 at 1:05 pm UTC
To be honest I am more worried about the exceptionally low Linux percentage.
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