<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
<!-- Parent-Version: 1.79 1.92 -->
<!--#set var="DISABLE_TOP_ADDENDUM" value="yes" -->
<!-- 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Please do not edit <ul class="blurbs">!
    Instead, edit /proprietary/workshop/mal.rec, then regenerate pages.
           See explanations in /proprietary/workshop/README.md.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-->
<title>Malware in Games
- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/side-menu.css" media="screen,print" />
 <!--#include virtual="/proprietary/po/malware-games.translist" -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
<div class="nav">
<a id="side-menu-button" class="switch" href="#navlinks">
 <img id="side-menu-icon" height="32"
      src="/graphics/icons/side-menu.png"
      title="Section contents"
      alt=" [Section contents] " />
</a>

<p class="breadcrumb">
 <a href="/"><img src="/graphics/icons/home.png" height="24"
    alt="GNU Home" title="GNU Home" /></a> /
 <a href="/proprietary/proprietary.html">Malware</a> /
 By product /
</p>
</div>
<!--GNUN: OUT-OF-DATE NOTICE-->
<!--#if expr="$OUTDATED_SINCE" --><!--#else -->
<!--#if expr="$LANGUAGE_SUFFIX" -->
<!--#set var="DISABLE_TOP_ADDENDUM" value="no" -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/top-addendum.html" -->
<!--#endif -->
<!--#endif -->
<div style="clear: both"></div>
<div id="last-div" class="reduced-width">
<h2>Malware in Games</h2>

<p><a href="/proprietary/proprietary.html">Other examples of proprietary
malware</a></p>

<div class="highlight-para">
<p>
<em>Malware</em> means class="infobox">
<hr class="full-width" />
<p>Nonfree (proprietary) software designed is very often malware (designed to function in ways that
mistreat or harm the user.  (This does not include accidental errors.)
</p>

<p>
Malware and nonfree user). Nonfree software is controlled by its developers,
which puts them in a position of power over the users; <a
href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">that is the
basic injustice</a>. The developers and manufacturers often exercise
that power to the detriment of the users they ought to serve.</p>

<p>This typically takes the form of malicious functionalities.</p>
<hr class="full-width" />
</div>

<div class="article">
<p>Among the numerous malicious functionalities that are found in games,
<a href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
addictiveness</a> may be the worst, because it doesn't only affect users
materially, but also psychologically.</p>

<div class="important">
<p>If you know of an example that ought to be in this page but isn't
here, please write
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>
to inform us. Please include the URL of a trustworthy reference or two different issues.
to serve as specific substantiation.</p>
</div>

<div class="column-limit" id="malware-games"></div>

<ul class="blurbs">
  <li id="M202010221">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft is imposing its
    surveillance on the game of Minecraft by <a
    href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/22/21527647/minecraft-microsoft-account-mojang-java">requiring
    every player to open an account on Microsoft's network</a>. Microsoft
    has bought the game and will merge all accounts into its network,
    which will give them access to people's data.</p>

    <p>Minecraft players <a
    href="https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Minetest">can play Minetest</a>
    instead. The difference
between essential advantage of Minetest is that it is free
    software, meaning it respects the user's computer freedom. As a bonus,
    it offers more options.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202010220">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The addictive Genshin Impact relentlessly <a href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">free software</a>
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/oct/22/genshin-impact-video-game-slowly-taking-over-the-world">coerces
    players to spend money by overwhelming the game play with loot
    boxes</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202010210">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>As of 2019-2020, Minecraft players are <a
    href="https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/article/java-edition-moving-house">being
    forced to move to Microsoft servers</a>, which results in
    privacy violation. Microsoft publishes a program so users can run
    their own server, but the program is proprietary and
nonfree it's another <a
    href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">injustice
    to users</a>.</p>

    <p>People can play <a
    href="https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Minetest">Minetest</a>
    instead. Minetest is free software and respects the user's computer
    freedom.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202004150">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Riot Games’ new anti-cheat is in malware; <a
href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">
whether
    href="https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/309320-riot-games-new-anti-cheat-system-runs-at-system-boot-uses-kernel-driver">runs
    on system boot at kernel level</a> on Windows. It is insecure software
    that increases the attack surface of the operating system.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202003110">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Roblox (among many other games)
    created anti-features which sucker children into <a
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/mar/11/my-kids-spent-600-on-their-ipads-without-my-knowledge">
    utilizing third-party payment services without authorization.</a></p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201908210">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-08</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft recorded users of Xboxes and had <a
    href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/43kv4q/microsoft-human-contractors-listened-to-xbox-owners-homes-kinect-cortana">
    human workers listen to the recordings</a>.</p>

    <p>Morally, we see no difference between having human workers listen and
    having speech-recognition systems listen.  Both intrude on privacy.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201907090">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-07</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Resourceful children figured out how to <a
    href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48908766"> empty their
    parents' bank account</a> buying packs of special players for an
    Electronic Arts soccer game.</p>

    <p>The random element of these packs (also called “loot
    boxes”) makes the game <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions#addictiveness">
    strongly addictive</a>, but the fact that players
    are pressured to spend more in order to get ahead of their
    competitors further qualifies it as <em>predatory</em>. 
    Note that Belgium <a
    href="https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/01/29/fifa-ultimate-team-packs-blocked-in-belgium/">
    made these loot boxes illegal</a> in 2018.</p>

    <p>The only good reason to have control a copy of such a proprietary
    game is to study it for free software development.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201809210">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-09</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Clash of Clans is a good example of a gratis mobile game that its
    developers <a href="https://gamerant.com/clash-of-clans-addiction/">
    made very addictive</a> for a large proportion of its users—and
    turned into a cash machine for themselves—by using <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
    psychological manipulation techniques</a>.</p>

    <p><small>(The article uses “free” to mean “zero
    price,” which is a usage we should avoid. We recommend saying
    “gratis” instead.)</small></p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201807310">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-07</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>A nonfree video game, available through the nonfree Steam client, <a
    href="https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/274552-great-now-games-are-hijacking-systems-with-">
    included a “miner”</a>, i.e. an executable that hijacks
    the CPU in users' computers to mine a cryptocurrency.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201806250">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-06</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The game Metal Gear Rising for
    MacOS was tethered to a server.  The company <a
    href="http://www.gamerevolution.com/news/400087-metal-gear-rising-mac-unplayable-drm">
    shut down the server, and all copies stopped working</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201806240">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-06</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Red Shell is a spyware that
    is found in many proprietary games. It <a
    href="https://nebulous.cloud/threads/red-shell-illegal-spyware-for-steam-games.31924/">
    tracks data on users' computers and sends it to third parties</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201804144">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>ArenaNet surreptitiously installed a spyware
    program or vice versa</a>.  It's along with an update to the massive
    multiplayer game Guild Wars 2.  The spyware allowed ArenaNet <a
    href="https://techraptor.net/content/arenanet-used-spyware-anti-cheat-for-guild-wars-2-banwave">
    to snoop on all open processes running on its user's computer</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201712060">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Learn how <a
    href="https://web.archive.org/web/20170319013045/https://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-farrell/the-fascinating-psycholog_b_6076502.html">
    gratis-to-play-and-not-win-much games manipulate their useds
    psychologically</a>.</p>

    <p>These manipulative behaviors are malicious functionalities, and they
    are possible because the game is proprietary. If it were free, people
    could publish a non-manipulative version and play that instead.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201711070">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-11</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The driver for a certain gaming keyboard <a
    href="https://thehackernews.com/2017/11/mantistek-keyboard-keylogger.html">sends
    information to China</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201612290">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>In the game Fruit Pop, the player buys boosts with coins to get
    a high score. The player gets coins at the end of each game, and can
    buy more coins with real money.</p>

    <p>Getting a higher score once leads the player to desire higher
    score again later. But the higher score resulting from the boost <a
    href="https://qz.com/873348/50000-coins-for-1-99-how-mobile-game-in-app-purchases-are-warping-kids-understanding-of-basic-economic-ideas/">does
    not give the player more coins, and does not directly help the player get
    a higher score in subsequent games</a>. To get that, the player
    will need a boost frequently, and usually has to pay real money
    for that. Since boosts are exciting and entertaining, the player is
    subtly pushed to purchase more coins with real money to get boosts,
    and it can develop into a costly habit.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201611070">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-11</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>nVidia's proprietary GeForce Experience <a
    href="http://www.gamersnexus.net/industry/2672-geforce-experience-data-transfer-analysis">makes
    users identify themselves and then sends personal data about them to
    nVidia servers</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201609240">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-09</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>A Capcom's Street Fighter V update <a
    href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/23/capcom_street_fighter_v/">
    installed a question driver that could be used as a back door by
    any application installed on a Windows computer</a>, but was <a
    href="https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2016/09/24/street-fighter-v-removes-new-anti-crack">
    immediately rolled back</a> in response to public outcry.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201605200">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Oculus Rift games now have <a
    href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/vv77ea/new-oculus-drm-cross-platform">
    DRM meant to prevent running them on other systems</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201604040">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Many popular mobile games include a random-reward system called
    <a href="#gacha"><i>gacha</i></a> which is especially effective on
    children. One variant of what the program <em>does</em> when it
runs.  However, gacha was declared illegal in practice nonfree software is often malware, because
the developer's awareness that the users would be powerless to fix any
malicious functionalities tempts Japan in 2012,
    but the developer to impose some.
</p>
</div>

<p>Here other variants are examples still <a
    href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2016/04/04/japanese-mobile-gaming-still-cant-shake-off-the-spectre-of-exploitation/">
    luring players into compulsively spending</a> inordinate amounts of malware in games.</p>

<ul>
<li><p>nVidia's proprietary GeForce Experience
    money on virtual toys.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201512290">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Many <a href="http://www.gamersnexus.net/industry/2672-geforce-experience-data-transfer-analysis">makes
    href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/12/29/how-much-data-are-video-games-collecting-about-you.html/">
    video game consoles snoop on their users identify themselves and then sends personal data about them report to
    nVidia servers</a>.</p> the
    internet</a>—even what their users weigh.</p>

    <p>A game console is a computer, and you can't trust a computer with
    a nonfree operating system.</p>
  </li>

<li><p>Modern

  <li id="M201509160">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-09</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Modern gratis game cr…apps <a
    href="http://toucharcade.com/2015/09/16/we-own-you-confessions-of-a-free-to-play-producer/">
    collect a wide range of data about their users and their users'
    friends and associates</a>.</p>

    <p>Even nastier, they do it through ad networks that merge the data
    collected by various cr…apps and sites made by different
    companies.</p>

    <p>They use this data to manipulate people to buy things, and hunt for
    “whales” who can be led to spend a lot of money. They also
    use a back door to manipulate the game play for specific players.</p>

    <p>While the article describes gratis games, games that cost money
    can use the same tactics.</p>
  </li>

<li>
<p>Oculus Rift games now have

  <li id="M201507290">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-07</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Game Of War: Fire Age is an iPhone game with <a href="http://motherboard.vice.com/read/new-oculus-drm-cross-platform">
DRM meant to prevent running them
    href="http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1762-5-reasons-i-lost-249000-iphone-game.html">
    addictive features</a> which are based on other systems</a>.</p> <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">behavioral
    manipulation techniques</a>, compounded with group emulation. After a
    fairly easy start, the game slows down and becomes more difficult,
    so gamers are led to spend more and more money in order to keep up
    with their group. And if they stop playing for a while, the equipment
    they invested in gets destroyed by the “enemy” unless
    they buy an expensive “shield” to protect it. This game
    is also deceptive, as it uses confusing menus and complex stats to
    obfuscate true monetary costs.</p>
  </li>

<li>
<p>Some proprietary

  <li id="M201504210">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Runescape is a popular online game with some <a
href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/19/apple-talking-cats-in-app-purchases">
games lure
    href="https://www.reddit.com/r/runescape/comments/33cd8g/question_why_is_runescape_so_addicting/">
    addictive features</a> derived from <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
    behavioral manipulation techniques</a>. Certain
    repetitive aspects of the game, like <a
    href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinding_(video_games)">
    grinding</a>, can be minimised by becoming a paying member, and can
    thus encourage children and impressionable people to spend their parents' money</a>.
</p> money on
    the game.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201410130">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2014-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a
    href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/10/nintendo-updates-take-wii-u-hostage-until-you-agree-new-legal-terms">Nintendo
    remotely sabotaged all Wiis, making them refuse to work unless the
    user agrees to a new EULA</a>.</p>

    <p>We can be quite sure this EULA is unjust because injustice is the
    only motive for imposing an EULA.</p>
  </li>

<li><p>Angry

  <li id="M201401280">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2014-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Angry Birds <a
    href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/world/spy-agencies-scour-phone-apps-for-personal-data.html">
    spies for companies, and the NSA takes advantage
    to spy through it too</a>.  Here's information on <a
    href="http://confabulator.blogspot.com/2012/11/analysis-of-what-information-angry.html">
    more spyware apps</a>.</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/spy-agencies-probe-angry-birds-and-other-apps-for-personal-data">
    href="https://www.propublica.org/article/spy-agencies-probe-angry-birds-and-other-apps-for-personal-data">
    More about NSA app spying</a>.</p>
  </li>
</ul>

</div><!--

  <li id="M201401190">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2014-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Some proprietary <a
    href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/19/apple-talking-cats-in-app-purchases">
    games lure children to spend their parents' money</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201105070">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2011-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a href="https://www.defectivebydesign.org/sony">The Playstation
    3 is a tyrant</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201003300">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2010-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Sony <a
    href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/03/sony-steals-feature-from-your-playstation-3">sabotaged
    the Playstation 3</a> with a firmware downgrade that removed the
    feature that allowed users to run GNU/Linux on it.</p>

    <p>Sony subsequently sent police after Geohot, after he cracked the
    code that blocked users from changing the firmware, and we responded by
    calling for a <a href="http://boycottsony.org">boycott of Sony</a>.</p>

    <p>In a court settlement Sony is <a
    href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/if-you-used-to-run-linux-on-your-ps3-you-could-get-55-from-sony/">
    now paying for id="content", starts in the include above sabotage</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M200510200">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2005-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Blizzard Warden is a hidden
    “cheating-prevention” program that <a
    href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2005/10/new-gaming-feature-spyware">
    spies on every process running on a gamer's computer and sniffs a
    good deal of personal data</a>, including lots of activities which
    have nothing to do with cheating.</p>
  </li>
</ul>
</div>

</div>
<!--#include virtual="/proprietary/proprietary-menu.html" -->
<!--#include virtual="/server/footer.html" -->
<div id="footer">
<div class="unprintable">

<p>Please send general FSF & GNU inquiries to
<a href="mailto:gnu@gnu.org"><gnu@gnu.org></a>.
There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
the FSF.  Broken links and other corrections or suggestions can be sent
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>.</p>

<p><!-- TRANSLATORS: Ignore the original text in this paragraph,
        replace it with the translation of these two:

        We work hard and do our best to provide accurate, good quality
        translations.  However, we are not exempt from imperfection.
        Please send your comments and general suggestions in this regard
        to <a href="mailto:web-translators@gnu.org">
        <web-translators@gnu.org></a>.</p>

        <p>For information on coordinating and submitting contributing translations of
        our web pages, see <a
        href="/server/standards/README.translations.html">Translations
        README</a>. -->
Please see the <a
href="/server/standards/README.translations.html">Translations
README</a> for information on coordinating and submitting contributing translations
of this article.</p>
</div>

<!-- Regarding copyright, in general, standalone pages (as opposed to
     files generated as part of manuals) on the GNU web server should
     be under CC BY-ND 4.0.  Please do NOT change or remove this
     without talking with the webmasters or licensing team first.
     Please make sure the copyright date is consistent with the
     document.  For web pages, it is ok to list just the latest year the
     document was modified, or published.

     If you wish to list earlier years, that is ok too.
     Either "2001, 2002, 2003" or "2001-2003" are ok for specifying
     years, as long as each year in the range is in fact a copyrightable
     year, i.e., a year in which the document was published (including
     being publicly visible on the web or in a revision control system).

     There is more detail about copyright years in the GNU Maintainers
     Information document, www.gnu.org/prep/maintain. -->

<p>Copyright © 2016 2016-2021 Free Software Foundation, Inc.</p>

<p>This page is licensed under a <a rel="license"
href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/">Creative
href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">Creative
Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.</p>

<!--#include virtual="/server/bottom-notes.html" -->

<p class="unprintable">Updated:
<!-- timestamp start -->
$Date: 2021/01/31 17:33:51 $
<!-- timestamp end -->
</p>
</div>
</div>
</div><!-- for class="inner", starts in the banner include -->
</body>
</html>