The Epic Games store data privacy issue is rumbling on: Steam maker Valve has suggested it’s miffed Epic’s launcher copies Steam user data – and it’s declared it’s going to investigate.
Epic has had to respond to concern about what the Epic launcher is doing under the hood with Steam-related stuff on people’s PCs after Epic’s app was found to be copying a Steam user data file called localconfig.vdf.
Epic has confirmed the launcher makes an encrypted local copy of your localconfig.vdf Steam file, but insisted it only imports your Steam friends with your explicit permission.
“Information from this file is only sent to Epic if you choose to import your Steam friends, and then only hashed IDs of your friends are sent and no other information from the file.”
Epic boss Tim Sweeney has come out to say Epic “ought to only access the localconfig.vdf file after the user chooses to import Steam friends”, before promising to fix the issue.
However, in a statement to BleepingComputer.com, Valve expressed concern about the situation, saying: “We are looking into what information the Epic launcher collects from Steam.”
“The Steam Client locally saves data such as the list of games you own, your friends list and saved login tokens (similar to information stored in web browser cookies),” Valve said.
“This is private user data, stored on the user’s home machine and is not intended to be used by other programs or uploaded to any 3rd party service.
“Interested users can find localconfig.vdf and other Steam configuration files in their Steam Client’s installation directory and open them in a text editor to see what data is contained in these files. They can also view all data related to their Steam account at: https://help.steampowered.com/en/accountdata.”
Valve and Epic have locked horns ever since the Fornite maker took aim at Steam with a PC games store of its own back in December 2018. Since then, Epic has courted developers with a higher revenue share than Steam’s, and courted PC gamers with timed exclusives for high-profile games such as Metro: Exodus and The Division 2, as well as indie games such as Satisfactory and Phoenix Point.
When Epic announced it had nabbed Metro Exodus from Steam, where it had a store page open for pre-orders for some time, Valve issued a statement saying the move was “unfair” on Steam customers. Now, the two gaming behemoths look set for another mini-rumble over Steam data privacy. What Valve plans to do in response to Epic’s incursion into its territory remains to be seen, but it’s clear the war for the hearts and minds of PC gamers is just getting started.