Epic Games Founder Tim Sweeney Fiercely Denies Epic Games Store Sending Data to Chinese Government
Epic Games Founder Tim Sweeney has fiercely denied allegations that the company is sending data to the Chinese Government through Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite and Unreal Engine, was recently accused by a user on Reddit of making their Epic Games Store “literal spyware” and sending data to the Chinese government due to being owned by Tencent, a Chinese giant which controls 40% of the company. The post received almost 30,000 upvotes and multiple donations from other users via Reddit Gold.
The Epic Games Store was launched in December 2018 with the intent to compete with huge launchers such as Steam, Uplay, and Origin; deciding to give developers a better royalty split, better tools to work with fans of games, and much more. However, the Store hasn’t been without controversy lately, as user Amnail on Reddit took to the /r/pcgaming subreddit to point out some interesting excerpts in the Terms of Service of the store.
The user claims that “[Epic Games] TOS states they have the right to monitor you and send the data to their parent company. And who is Epic’s parent company? The Chinese dev that’s known for spying for the Chinese government.” They are referring to Tencent Holdings Ltd, one of the largest companies on the planet that owns a 40% stake in the Fortnite creator. The company had a controversy of its own earlier this year when it was accused of spying for the Chinese government.
WeChat, the largest product that the company owns, was accused of spying on its users and sending the data to the government. Many users reported that their accounts had been monitored by police, leading to arrests for users who had shared illegal content on the platform. Tencent denied the accusations of storing user data, but the statement included inconsistencies with Chinese laws that required companies to store chat data for 6 months to comply with law enforcement.
Going back to Epic Games, which is accused of doing the same thing through its new store. The user cites this extract from the Terms of Service.
“Any content that you create, generate, or make available through the Epic Games store application shall be “UGC”. You hereby grant to Epic a non-exclusive, fully-paid, royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, transferable, and sublicensable license to use, copy, modify, adapt, distribute, prepare derivative works based on, publicly perform, publicly display, make, have made, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise exploit your UGC for any purposes, for all current and future methods and forms of exploitation in any country. You may not create, generate, or make available any UGC to which you do not have the right to grant Epic such license. In addition, you may not create, generate, or make available any UGC that is illegal or violates or infringes another’s rights, including intellectual property rights or privacy, publicity or moral rights. Epic reserves the right to take down any UGC in its discretion.”
You can read the full post, which includes a lot more jabs to both Epic and Ubisoft for apparent practices like this, at the end of this article. However, Epic Games Founder Tim Sweeney sent a reply to the user in the comments, fiercely denying the allegations – you can find Sweeney’s full statement from Reddit below:
It is actually quite uncommon for an executive to make such a forceful denial without polite, hedging statements. You can see from this statement that Sweeney is absolutely positive and confident in his denial that he leaves zero room to be wrong. He is clearly frustrated by the accusations, and has attempted to shut them down swiftly.
We have no reason to doubt Sweeney, as Epic Games is a US-based company and therefore isn’t legally liable to give information to the Chinese government. DualShockers will keep you updated if anything else arises regarding the controversy and Epic’s relation with China.