Owlcat Games has removed AppsFlyer from their latest update to Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, immediately after launching it.
AppsFlyer is a data collection platform that would have collected data on every Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous every time they played it.
Owlcat Games explained in an FAQ that they wanted to collect this data from their players:
- IP address
- Timestamp (date and time the game been launched)
- Platform where the game has been played (i.e. Steam)
- Game Version and Game ID
- OS version of the PC
Now, in their latest update, Owlcat made it clear that they have removed this change after taking fan feedback into consideration. This is what they said:
“After reading through your comments and taking into consideration your concerns, we would like to apologize for the whole AppsFlyer and EULA update situation. What we considered a technical thing turned out to be a huge privacy concern for a lot of our players.”
As reported by PC Gamer, the backlash Owlcat received for this issue was immediate. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous received 200 negative reviews, dropping their Steam review score from Positive to Mixed.
PC Gamer reports that the reasoning for Owlcat to add this data collection to their game wasn’t clear, but it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out why.
Contrary to most fans’ worst fears, Owlcat didn’t necessarily intend to sell this data to advertisers. This kind of data is useful to Owlcat themselves, as it can help them understand the playing habits of their community. They can get more instructive data this way than they could ever hope to get from volunteer or even mandatory user surveys.
That sort of data collection and analysis is, of course, normalized in mobile gaming. Mobile game developers can react immediately to changes in their players’ habits to ensure that they keep playing.
Now, mobile gaming is a very different animal to PC and console gaming, but that doesn’t mean this sort of data collection is foreign to those games either. Diablo IV, for example, is transparently using that kind of data collection as their own feedback mechanism for their upcoming content.
If anything, Owlcat Games didn’t do a very good job of communicating the changes that they were making with this AppsFlyer update, to assuage what concerns the community could have had. Make no mistake; whatever Owlcat was hoping to learn from their gamers, they now have to cancel all of it because they failed to anticipate and manage this backlash.