ZeniMax apologizes for Elder Scrolls Online spyware, says it was ‘erroneously added’ and will be removed [Updated]
According to the Red Shell FAQ, the program “tracks device-based information about your” PC.
“We do not collect any personal information about gamers. We don’t collect names, emails, or addresses. Our service basically says ‘this computer clicked on a link from this YouTube video and the same computer played your game.’ We have no interest in tracking people, just computers for the purposes of attribution.”
The tracker is operating only on PCs right now, although allegedly the software will be available for consoles in the future.
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.