Epic Games was on the receiving end of some sharp criticism on the PC Gaming subreddit yesterday. The original rant in the thread suggested that the Epic Store was “literally spyware” that reports back to parent company Tencent. It also accused the game maker of having a "terms-of-service" agreement that allows it to “steal” user-generated content (UGC), among other minor complaints.
The post was brought on by a misunderstanding that Epic’s storefront shares data with its parent company. The post garnered over 27,000 upvotes, which prompted Epic CEO Tim Sweeney to respond personally.
Regarding the spyware accusations, Sweeney denied it gave any company access to user information.
“Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company,” he said. “We don’t share it, sell it, or broker access to it for advertising like so many other companies do. I’m the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and would never allow this to happen.”
The accusation arose from a misinterpreted portion of the End User License Agreement (EULA) that says that it has the right to monitor game usage and send that data to its parent company. The OP assumed this meant Tencent. However, the parent referred to is actually the parent of the Epic Store — Epic Games, Inc.
I’m the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and would never allow this to happen.
“The language related to sharing data with the parent companies refers to Epic Games Inc. It’s a US-based company. This language exists because when you buy an Epic game in certain territories (like Europe), the seller of record is our local (e.g. European) subsidiary company for tax purposes, but the data is ultimately stored by Epic Games Inc, [not Tencent].”
While sites like Wikipedia list Tencent as Epic’s parent company, the Chinese games firm only holds a 40-percent share. Sweeney points out that he is still the controlling shareholder.
“Tencent is not a parent company of Epic," he explained. "Tencent is an independent company that’s a minority investor in Epic, alongside many others. However, they do not have any sort of access to our customer data.”
We reported back in July how Epic changed its cut from the store from the industry standard of 30 percent to 12 percent and made that change retroactive. Regarding the “stealing” of UGC, Sweeney was quick to point out that policy. Regardless of who legally “owns” the content, developers are still paid for their contributions and at a higher rate than every other store.
"Steam takes 30%, and Epic takes 12%," he explained. "That’s an 18% difference, and most devs make WAY less than an 18% profit margin - so this can be the difference between being able to fund a new game and going bankrupt!”