Garry's Mod April 2019 Update Modifies TOS and Adds New Tracking Tool

Published: May 2, 2019 7:31 PM /


Garry's Mod Update Includes Invasive GameAnalytics Tool

Garry's Mod is probably one of the weirdest and most absurdist games ever made. A physics sandbox built upon the Source engine, which was already a kind of physics sandbox in itself. The developer openly admits in the Steam page description: "There aren't any predefined aims or goals. We give you the tools and leave you to play." First released in 2006, it's one of the earliest Steam games along with Valve's own, and it has remained popular for all these years, even though it has no aims or goals. The latest April 2019 update, however, includes a little something that just might affect its popularity, namely GameAnalytics, a tracking tool. Facepunch Studios also included a privacy policy update along with it, adding that "by continuing to play Garry’s Mod on or after April 30th, 2019, you agree to these changes."

One of these changes includes the following clause:

ix. Conduct. do or say anything unlawful, racist, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, xenophobic, sexist, discriminatory, abusive, defamatory, obscene, invasive of the privacy of another person or otherwise offensive. This includes in any chat or other communications with users. Facepunch reserves the right to monitor the content of any of your messages and prevent your use of any such chat or other communication systems for any reason.
Also worthy of note is that according to the free analytics page of GameAnalytics, the company is owned by Mobvista, a Chinese "leading technology platform providing mobile advertising and mobile analytics services to the app developers globally." Regarding the fact that they offer the service completely free, they explain:
Our popular service means we offer unparalleled insight into the global mobile gaming industry - making us a strategic asset of our parent company, Mobvista.
The last incident involving a tracking tool included in games was last year's Red Shell fiasco, which was then removed from about 20 games following an outraged response from players. These games include Battlerite, The Elder Scrolls Online, Sid Meier's Civilization VI, and Conan Exiles. It's generally expected that online games do some form of tracking or another, but there is a difference between telemetry and spyware, and Red Shell arguably crossed the threshold into spyware. Where exactly GameAnalytics falls is a question that many are asking.

Both on Twitter and Reddit, users and players have been asking Garry's Mod creator Garry Newman about GameAnalytics and bringing up concerns that GameAnalytics is actually the same tracking software as Red Shell, which he claims is not, though some users on Reddit claim it is.

He also added on Reddit that "This is all stuff that has been tracked by Steam for 10 years, we’re just changing to a different provider." And in one of his latest comments on Reddit, he claims that "If you have RedShell.exe in your taskmanager it didn't come from us, you've got bigger problems." You can keep up with his latest comments and replies on Twitter and Reddit.

In any case, Reddit user gmchosting shared an easy and simple way to disable GameAnalytics on Steam:

If the security conscious feels inclined, you can get away with simply deleting the DLL from your client. It won't be regenerated unless either you verify/redownload the game or a game update for your client comes out. You can also make a new file called analytics.dll after doing so and set it as read-only to avoid further issues from future updates.

It is in: ./GarrysMod/garrysmod/bin/analytics.dll

What do you think of this tracking tool in your games? Do you have any privacy concerns with this kind of intrusive tracking software? Let us know in the comments below!

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