The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home

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Henry Dec 3, 2018 @ 12:44pm
Buffpanel Spyware
Was about to purchase the game in the current sale. A review states that Buffpanel Spyware has been added with the latest patch. Since I won't pay money to be spyed upon can anyone confirm or deny this? Its ridiculous how Devs still try this CRAP after the RedShell debacle.

For reference the review in question:

Patch support was stopped one and a half year ago. But the f****ing publisher just releasee a new update solely to add the spy software from buffpanel without offering an opt-out (besides modifying the host file).
Do not support this s**t, do not buy!
Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
Good morning. Happy new year everyone! Bespite our differences, I wish you all the best for 2019. :)

After I had some talks with the responsible colleagues today, we decided to remove BuffPanel from the game. Besides the fact, that it obviously makes you guys feel bad about our game, which deserves to be played and not to be avoided, the influencer marketing campaign we measured with this tool didn't have the expected outcome we hoped for.

Just to clarify, all data that was transferred to BuffPanel until today was anonymized. The data can't be connected to you. You won't have any disadvantages from it.

A moment ago, we rolled back the game version to the version we had previous to the BuffPanel patch. Depending on your Steam settings, you either trigger the download yourself or it installs automatically.

I am sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused. Maybe anyone of you try "BUFFPANEL" as a Seed for the game and let us know if the generated universe is worth playing. :)

Best regards,
Stevee
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Showing 1-15 of 96 comments
falloutttt Dec 3, 2018 @ 1:22pm 
yes there's a spyware now in this game.

and there was no info or anything about it being added.

i had love and respect for this devs and love this game so much, but i can't recommend this game now. :/

don't buy it, don't support this♥♥♥♥♥♥indeed!
falloutttt Dec 3, 2018 @ 1:24pm 
dont buy any game from this devs and publisher. they most likely going to add this spyware to their other games as well.
Henry Dec 3, 2018 @ 11:10pm 
Thanks for the feedback. Remove the game from my wishlist now. Its a pity how people deliberately ruin their business and reputation. At least I hope that it ruins their business since this behavior is barely legal. Instead of giving customers an incentive to buy their stuff they just alienate possible customers. It's just weird.
SteveeToGo  [developer] Dec 5, 2018 @ 2:11am 
Hi everyone.
it's Steve from the f** publisher you are talking about.

First of all, I am very sorry that there was no announcement about this patch being implemented. I know it looks a lot like we don't want it to be public, but that is not the case. We even show the Privacy Policy prominently ingame. It was just a communication mistake. It wasn't our intention to get your hopes up for new content or to leave you in the dark about BuffPanel.


I understand all the hate against tracking software. I dealt with Red Shell complains on other games already and seeing the complains about BuffPanel rings a tons of bells in my head.

We are planning to run a marketing campaign for The Long Journey Home. It is a great game and deserves more visibility. But working in Marketing has a lot to do with numbers and statistics. We need a way to measure our actions, so we don't make mistakes. And BuffPanel is one potential tool to help us with that. And in this case, our internal Team decided for this tool. We spend a lot of time talking to our lawyer to make it GDPR compliant.

Still, I understand that you maybe don't want your data to be tracked in the first place, even if it is absolutely anonymous by one-way-hashing. And I agree that the Opt-Out Option from BuffPanel isn't really the most user-friendly thing on earth (lol even Red Shell had an easier opt-out).
So, here is a link to a tutorial how to edit the Hosts file[www.howtogeek.com] for you to use, while I go and tell our responsible inhouse team about the complains and the user-unfriendly opt-out method.

If I get news for you, I'll share it here. Until then, let me know if you have any other questions or concerns regarding this matter.

Best,
Stevee
Last edited by SteveeToGo; Dec 5, 2018 @ 2:11am
Henry Dec 5, 2018 @ 10:43am 
Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
It was just a communication mistake.
RedShell was also implemented "silently" into many games. I DOUBT that the missing public announcement for all those was just a "communication mistake". So for the normal user this behavior always has a bitter taste, intended or not.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We even show the Privacy Policy prominently ingame.
This does not help me. The thing is if this stuff is added AFTER my purchase. If I have paid for the game, refund period is over and someone decides to add 3rd party tracking. I don't want to be tracked. The suggested "solution"/opt-out Host redirection can easily be circumvented. So my only real choice here is no longer to play the game I have purchased (sounds stupid). This has a feeling of extortion to me: "give us your data or you wasted the money you gave us already." It feels as if I must pay with money AND data, when all I want is play a game. I don't want to mess around with hosts, credibility of the corporations (if I can trust them or not), beeing always on the look. It is simply unfair you FORCE me in this situation.
If you tell on the shop page: "We collect your data and track you" I can choose NOT to buy your product. When you add it later I have no more choice. Thats unfair.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
I understand all the hate against tracking software. I dealt with Red Shell complains on other games already and seeing the complains about BuffPanel rings a tons of bells in my head.
There is always an upcry after such "attempts". And yet you seem surprised. This in turn surprises me. And the question is why you still try it? Are you so desperate or do you value your customers so little?

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We are planning to run a marketing campaign for The Long Journey Home. It is a great game and deserves more visibility.
If it is so great why are there so many negative reviews? And so many issues in those reviews which are not adressed? Why must you resort to shady marketing tricks which alienates customers instead of just providing a good product?
I know the market has changed and competition is fierce these days but this is not my fault. And I'm the one who should be "punished" for this?
And I don't understand when you add the tracking to the game you have already sold to the customer. Is he expected to buy it again when he sees your marketing campaing?

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We need a way to measure our actions, so we don't make mistakes.
You can only measure what happens now, after your actions. So this does not prevent you from making mistakes in the first place. It just helps you to better decide if a campaing or marketing channel was a mistake or not and thus MAYBE helps to avoid more mistakes in the future. But I don't care if your marketing goes well or not. Why must you check this on my Computer? Check it with the store or the Ad server. Just that there is this technically possibility does not automatically mean you should choose it.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We spend a lot of time talking to our lawyer to make it GDPR compliant.
This sounds as if a lawyer has never been wrong. Or a court. Or a government making the laws. Even if it is legal (which I cannot be sure of when YOUR lawyer tells me) this does not automatically makes it ethical or morally. The court may judge you if it is legal. But normal people who don't read law texts judge you by ethical criterias.
I see you are from germany (me too). Marital♥♥♥♥♥♥was "legal" here until 1997. Does that mean one should have done it because theres no law against it?
When GDRP was created they listened mainly to the industry lobby, not to the data protecting people. So even if you obey to the law this does NOT AUTOMATICALLY mean that my interests are adequately represented.
So in the end to normal people it does not really matter if it is legal or not. When they don't want to be tracked they are still angry at you.
It's your business. You keep the profits. So you should be the taking the economic risks. You should not delegate them to your (often unaware) customers.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
while I go and tell our responsible inhouse team about the complains
Even if you remove it now the damage to your reputation is done (at least for me). This has simply shown your business ethics and it's nothing I want to support. No amount of backpedaling will help you with me.
I don't want to support such business behavior. If you want to know something ask me, and I decide wether I want to tell you or not. Spy on me and secretly "steal" my data and you have lost a customer forever.

Can I trust Buffpanel or their anonymization? Maybe today, but maybe in future they are purchased by Google, Facebook or the NSA. I can't prevent that and I certainly don't trust those. Or when they are hacked and the data be sold or published. Or maybe quantum computers make the one-way hashing not so one way in the future. Who knows? So my data can easily be in hands I don't want it into. Again: because YOU leave me no CHOICE!
Thats the real problem. That noone asks wether I want to be tracked. They just assume it is their RIGHT to get my data. And I have to opt-out, if I get aware of the tracking in time. Mostly it is silent so there is no choice. These issues would be much less aggravating when you and ALL OTHERS simply make it OPT-IN. Maybe offer a special ingame item or other "goodies". There are many people who don't mind and exhibitory give their information to anyone, interested or not. But many people care what happens on THEIR computer and want to avoid potential security issues.

A customer gains nothing from this "abusive" arrangement where you collect their data. Customers can only loose. Maybe you can imagine that this feels just crap.
I cannot change business reality and technological advancement. I can only "vote with my wallet". I support companies that treat me like a human beeing. And I avoid those which think I can be fooled by them. This is the only thing I can do and I just hope enough people think like that otherwise this business "ethics" will spread further and noone will be safe in future. If you loose more sales due to that decision than you gain through your analysis (whatever it may tell you) then maybe people who suggest that in future are laughed at.

There are so many games out there to choose from. Gameplay, Graphics, Content are just a part of the thing I buy. More important to me is if I'm happy with my purchase or if I regret it. And now I'm so happy I have NOT purchased your game before because then I would painfully regret it now. And I'm happy I discovered the review which warned me.
I have removed all RedShell and Buffpanel games from my wishlist. Unfortunately I have not found a way to blacklist developers and puplishers. So I must check manually which games to avoid in the future.

Just that you don't think I'm a tech-averse "granpa". I'm developer myself and because of that background knowledge I'm so concerned where this behavior of you and other companies may lead to. And thats why I wrote this long rant to maybe influence other customers and maybe (unlikely) change the decisions about this topic beeing made in the future.

Edit: for typos, addition and quote formatting.
Last edited by Henry; Dec 5, 2018 @ 9:42pm
SteveeToGo  [developer] Dec 6, 2018 @ 2:26am 
Hi Henry,

I expected that you doubt that it was an communication mistake. Though, I stay with my apology.

It is surprising to hear that you see the opt-out option via editing the hosts file as "circumventing". Especially when editing system files, security blocking is on your side and under your own control rather than most opt-out features on hand of the tracking companies, like Red Shell where you just "ask them to not track your data" - kind of.
Your points of "supercomputers might be able to decode one-way-hashed data" or "NSA or Facebook buying BuffPanel" seem unlikely and far fetched to me.

I understand that you are angry though, because we indeed implemented the tool after you bought it and do not say a word about it before a purchase. I'll talk to the team to change that. I wonder if Steam has an option to show Privacy Policies on the Store page.

In the end, it is a good thing that you care about your own data and I accept that. Keep your eyes open. There are way worse places on the internet than a video game company that wants to make sure their marketing campaign performs well. We do our best to stay within GDPR, anonymize data and be transparent about it. But as you said in your case, quote "No amount of backpedaling will help you with me."

The thread here can stay open as a hint for future players.

Best regards,
Steve
Last edited by SteveeToGo; Dec 6, 2018 @ 2:29am
Narastus Dec 6, 2018 @ 4:13am 
so finaly you say "yes we patch this spyware after you buying the Game, dont talk about it, dont give you a opt out option and this is now your Problem. Steve... are you kidding me?
SteveeToGo  [developer] Dec 6, 2018 @ 4:22am 
Please read my two posts above to find out that I agreed to address your concerns to the team, pressure for a Privacy Policy hint on the Store page, requesting better opt-out options, besides me linking you a tutorial on how to opt-out right now and I leave the thread open to let you guys talk about it - so like the opposite of all what you said.
Stay on an appropriate level of discussion here, Narastus. I do that and I ask you to do so, too.
Henry Dec 6, 2018 @ 10:38am 
Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
It is surprising to hear that you see the opt-out option via editing the hosts file as "circumventing". Especially when editing system files, security blocking is on your side and under your own control rather than most opt-out features on hand of the tracking companies, like Red Shell where you just "ask them to not track your data" - kind of.
No. I meant that relying on the hosts file as "security" feature is not secure since it can easily be bypassed (maybe a better word than circumvented). Im by no means an IT security professional. But as far as I know I tell the hosts file to block fe buffpanel.com. Now they simply can send their data to another domain and the entry is entirely useless. That I mean with "it can circumvented". I can edit the file on my computer but I cannot influence wether their tool sends my data to the assumed domain. Shall I check this after every patch? Are I forced to trust someone I don't know? Thats the issue. I feel you "attack" me with your attempts and I have to defend. This costs me precious time and resources. Why should I sacrifice that for YOUR marketing benefit?

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
Your points of "supercomputers might be able to decode one-way-hashed data" or "NSA or Facebook buying BuffPanel" seem unlikely and far fetched to me.
You mean as unlikely as Microsoft purchases Minecraft, Facebook purchases WhatsApp and Oculus, Google purchases Youtube? Yes. Very unlikely and "far fetched".

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
I understand that you are angry though, because we indeed implemented the tool after you bought it
It seems you did understand me wrong. I have NOT purchased your game. I was about to purchase and read the review with the Spyware warning. Then I asked here for clarification.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
and do not say a word about it before a purchase. I'll talk to the team to change that. I wonder if Steam has an option to show Privacy Policies on the Store page.
How does this help the people who already purchased it and cannot refund it via Steam now? Do they get a refund from your company?

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
In the end, it is a good thing that you care about your own data and I accept that. Keep your eyes open.
Why only me? Why should this not be good for all of your users? Thus you should ALSO care about their data (not in the means of taking it away but by protecting it). What you say here is like a thief who says "better watch your wallet" after he stole it. If you think its a good thing to protect ones data and privacy don't act against it. Simple as that.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
There are way worse places on the internet than a video game company that wants to make sure their marketing campaign performs well.
I can try to avoid them. But if a customer wants to avoid your Buffpanel tracking he has spent money for nothing. Thats all I complain about. You leave people no real choice. The reddit link posted above (about another game) says that buffpanel also reads browser history/cookies (I have not verified that!). For me this is a serious privacy issue. It just feels as it should be my (and your customers) choice and that not someone I don't know and I don't trust should decide that for me. Because chances are high that he does not decide in my favor. Thats all I'm saying. Leave the people a real choice and don't force them into such a situation.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We do our best to stay within GDPR, anonymize data and be transparent about it.
And I also mentioned that obeying to GDPR law does not AUTMATICALLY puts you on the good side. You should ask yourself what your customers want and how such behavior affects your reputation. When noone else beside me cares go on. But I think such things makes many people angry which will think twice before purchasing your products again. Marketing does not help you with upset and disappointed customers.

Originally posted by SteveeToGo:
We [...] be transparent about it.
If you want acceptance just be transparent. What does this "service" of Buffpanel cost your corporation?
I still dont understand it. You patch the Buffpanel tracking into your game for users who already own your game. Then you do some marketing magic. What data do you expect from Buffpanel? How does it help you to decide if the marketing was successfull? I suppose noone of the current user will buy the game again. So whats the benefit you expect? Just make that clear for people who have no clue about marketing.
SteveeToGo  [developer] Dec 7, 2018 @ 12:23am 
Hi Henry,

I stay with most of my answers. I am happy to answer the two questions I saw that need clarification.

You can always request a refund of a game at the Steam Help center. If the purchase is older than the usual 14 days (2 hours playtime), they decide manually. It isn't up to us if this refund gets approved and I sadly have no further insights into how Steam decides.
Additional to that, I want to say that TLJH doesn't require an valid internet connection at all. You should be able to play it in Offline-Mode.

To explain our marketing campaign a bit further: We're running a marketing campaign including influencers. BuffPanel helps us to find out which influencer brought us how many players (how many. NOT which players), so we can pay all your favorite online content creators fairly for their contribution to our games' success. It is not about selling the same game again to players who already own the game.

Best,
Stevee
Last edited by SteveeToGo; Dec 7, 2018 @ 12:26am
kjfischada Dec 7, 2018 @ 9:32am 
I really don't see what all the fuss about perfectly legal, non-intrusive marketing trackers is. Its anonymous, it helps companies make better decisions, and there isn't any harm done to the consumer. Even if Facebook or Google or whoever buys it or something (which won't ever happen in nearly all cases), they're not going to do anything malicious with it. I just don't see the reason for outrage like this, especially after GDPR, which made most tracking softwares completely harmless. In the end, tracking/data collection is anonymous and helps the company, and the only real "evil" that can come from it is inconsequential things like 'what in-game menu you clicked on' ending up in some huge automated database somewhere. At least that's my take on it. The whole issue just seems really silly for no good reason, other than "Oh my God! Tracking! Bad! I'm angry now!" It doesn't make any sense.
Last edited by kjfischada; Dec 7, 2018 @ 9:38am
pet Dec 7, 2018 @ 9:39am 
sorry steve
i am not happy to play that hard game but thats my opinion... i tender more to other gametypes but i had tested it.... i read bevore i installed your update and honest i dont want a way how to do a complicated opt out of spyware .....
i just dont want to install spyware ---so sorry i drop your game out of business here...
like i said it wasent my type of game and the spyware warning was the final to kick it.

hektor Dec 7, 2018 @ 12:11pm 
If you consider this spyware you need to burn all of your devices and run to the mountains. Or up your meds.

Timestamp
Game token
IP address
HTTP headers & user agent
Player token
SDK version
Possibly a list of custom {key,value} pairs set by the developers
ID of a previous run event (e.g. the last time you ran the game)
ID of a previous click event (e.g. the last time you clicked a link in their BuffPanel campaign)
List of click event IDs (e.g. a list of all the click events attributed to your user profile in the BuffPanel system)
Whether you're an existing player, a conversion, or a reactivation/reengagement
kjfischada Dec 7, 2018 @ 2:57pm 
Originally posted by hektor:
If you consider this spyware you need to burn all of your devices and run to the mountains. Or up your meds.

Timestamp
Game token
IP address
HTTP headers & user agent
Player token
SDK version
Possibly a list of custom {key,value} pairs set by the developers
ID of a previous run event (e.g. the last time you ran the game)
ID of a previous click event (e.g. the last time you clicked a link in their BuffPanel campaign)
List of click event IDs (e.g. a list of all the click events attributed to your user profile in the BuffPanel system)
Whether you're an existing player, a conversion, or a reactivation/reengagement

Couldn't agree more.
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