Is Big Brother Watching The Elder Scrolls Online?
Fans of The Elder Scrolls Online recently recently discovered that the game has a hidden tracking software called Red Shell installed in its core files. Although the program claims that it does not log personal information, many fans are angry at its inclusion.
The Red Shell website describes itself as a service that lets “Steam games uncover where their players come from through reliable attribution.” The software tracks digital fingerprints that are left when a person clicks a custom link, not unlike analytics tracking services like Bitly. Afterwards, it logs when the game’s launcher is fired up by the same person and collects attribution data.
Matt Firor, producer of The Elder Scrolls Online, apologized for the software’s inclusion and claims that Red Shell is still being evaluated and wasn’t meant to make it into the Update 18 live client.
His full statement is below:
“My apologies for the confusion over the integration of Red Shell into ESO. Here’s what happened: we have been experimenting with a better way to link which advertisements and web content new players see to the eventual account that is created in the game. The ONLY purpose this would be used for is to determine from which origin points our new players come from, so we can better plan where to place advertisements and other web content. Existing accounts will never encounter this, as they are already created.
Several factors came together in Update 18 and Red Shell was erroneously added to the live build when we were still testing and evaluating it. It has never been active in ESO, even though the base tech is in the client – i.e. it was never enabled. So, we will remove it from Update 18, which will take place in the PC/Mac incremental build scheduled for this coming Monday (it was never considered for Console, so won’t be in Tuesday’s U18 launch). We never should have done this without giving everyone a heads up it was coming, and we will learn from this mistake.
That being said, we are still investigating how to use this technology in the future to grow and sustain ESO more effectively. When/if we do so, we will give everyone a heads up with clear instructions as to what it is doing, how it is doing it, and how to opt-out should you so desire.
Check out the patch notes on Monday for the notice that Red Shell has been removed from U18, and we will keep everyone posted – and again, my apologies.”