Is Garry spying on us?!

May 1, 2019

What a interesting morning. In one fell swoop FacePunch triggered it’s sensitive audience in two ways. But there’s actually a valuable lesson to learn from this.

Analytics.dll

Garry’s Mod just pushed an update which includes a new analytics system, without any information. People were quick to jump to the conclusion FacePunch are harvesting data, and some even claiming they’re selling it to Amazon.

The new file is stored in garrysmod\garrysmod\bin\analytics.dll – and like a good boy, stops working when you delete it. Yep – if you want to disable the new spooky analytics system, you can just delete it.

Additionally, if you’d like to avoid it being replaced, you can add a read-only file in this folder, which will prevent it being replaced.

According to a Reddit post, the module communicates with two IP’s, which are owned by a company called Game Analytics:

34.192.55.27  
104.23.140.18

gameanalytics.com

Previously, FacePunch used Valves analytics (with some internal stuff), to paint a picture of what was going on inside their games. However, this latest move seems to be their switch away from Valve, to a provider called Game Analytics.

This service allows game developers to monitor a huge range of things about the people playing their games, how the game is running, and what’s going on in the game.

What concerns most people is Game Analytics is free. It looks like the company is owned by “Mobvista”. According to Mobvista, this is what they do:

Mobvista is a leading technology platform providing mobile advertising and mobile analytics services to the app developers globally.

mobvista.com

That said – it doesn’t seem obvious that Mobvista is using the data acquired through Game Analytics to advertise themselves. So what’s the catch with Game Analytics being free? Are they selling our data?!

Lucky for you, they already answered this question. Here’s how Game Analytics is looking to make money:

Our path to revenue includes building up a series of new products that will be released within the next 6 to 12 months. One is a sophisticated data-mining tool for enterprises (that works with GameAnalytics) and others are products supporting game distribution and monetization.

gameanalytics.com/blog/gameanalytics-is-now-completely-free.html

Is big FacePunch selling our data?

I think it’s safe at this point to assume Game Analytics aren’t selling data. Even though their relationship with Mobvista is… interesting…

So what about FacePunch, are they selling our data!? If the big G is anyone to be trusted, no. They’re not. According to FacePunch founder Garry Newman:

We’re tracking how many people play our game, when they play, how long they play. We’re not selling any of this data and we’re not tracking anything outside of the game

reddit.com/r/gmod/comments/bja1tw/regarding_the_new_update_and_the_new_user/em7f5ah/
Garry’s response to someone accusing him of selling data

Summary

  • It looks like Garry’s Mod switched to a new analytics provider, and had to update their EULA to comply with various data protection laws.
  • Game Analytics don’t seem to share or sell data.
  • FacePunch claim they’re not sharing or selling data.
  • It doesn’t seem like FacePunch have any plans to more actively moderate Garry’s Mod.

So, what’s the lesson? Communication. If FacePunch had better communicated this update, and been more conscious of the concerns the new EULA would set-off, this could have all been avoided.