Once Human Faces Backlash Over Privacy Concerns, Developers Respond

The newly launched survival game Once Human has faced a wave of negative reviews due to concerns over its terms of service (ToS) and privacy policy. Published by Chinese giant NetEase, the game collects extensive personal data, which has alarmed many players.

Privacy Concerns and Negative Reviews

Once Human’s ToS includes clauses that allow the collection of government-issued IDs, names, contact details, social media accounts, and even geolocation information. This has led to players referring to the game as an ‘identity theft speedrun,’ with many uninstalling the game immediately after reading the ToS.

Reviews on Steam have highlighted these privacy issues, contributing to the game’s ‘Mixed’ rating, with only 56% of over 3,000 reviews being positive. Players expressed distrust and dissatisfaction with the extensive data collection requirements.

Developer Response

In response to the backlash, Starry Studios, a subsidiary of NetEase, issued a statement on the game’s official Discord server. The developers clarified that government-issued IDs would only be collected under specific circumstances, such as compliance with local laws, verifying parental consent, or correcting age information. They assured that any collected ID information would be deleted immediately after fulfilling its purpose.

Starry Studios emphasized their commitment to data privacy principles like data minimization and transparency. They also mentioned recent updates to the privacy policy, aiming to address player concerns and improve clarity.

Despite the initial negative reception, the developers have shown responsiveness to player feedback. For instance, they quickly addressed complaints about character creation limitations by enabling multiple-character creation.

The controversy surrounding Once Human’s privacy policy raises important questions about data collection practices in the gaming industry. Will these assurances from NetEase and Starry Studios be enough to regain player trust? How will other developers address similar concerns in the future? The ongoing discussion highlights the need for greater transparency and user control over personal data.