Once Human’s Terms of Service EULA sparks privacy concerns, devs respond

What you need to know

  • Once Human is a new free-to-play multiplayer survival shooter from developer Starry Studio and publisher NetEase.
  • The game launched on Tuesday afternoon to a “Mixed” reception, with most negative reviews coming from players concerned about the game’s End User License Agreement (EULA) and NetEase’s privacy policy.
  • In the policy, it’s noted that NetEase can collect personal data like government IDs, mailing addresses, lists of friends on social media, and other things that have raised player eyebrows.
  • In response, Starry Studio and NetEase have posted in the game’s Discord server in an attempt to assuage concerns, promising that they “will only use your data lawfully and reasonably and in accordance with local legal compliance requirements.”

The highly anticipated open world survival shooter Once Human finally launched on Tuesday afternoon after multiple beta tests in recent months, but it’s off to a bit of a rocky start — and not because of issues with its gameplay. So far, the vast majority of the negative reviews keeping the free-to-play game at “Mixed” on Steam actually cite the game’s Terms of Service End User License Agreement (EULA), and publisher NetEase’s privacy policy.

Under that privacy policy, Once Human collects various different types of personal data from its players, such as names, gameplay info, preferences, marketing data, details about the device you’re using to play the game, and other information. The list of what’s collected is quite lengthy and extensive, but most of it doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable or unlike what other publishers gather.

What are raising eyebrows quite a bit, though, are the sections of the privacy policy that note NetEase can collect things like government-issued IDs, lists of friends on social media, geolocation details, and mailing addresses. After spotting these, a wide number of players have left negative Steam reviews for the game, with several outright accusing it of being “spyware” and used for identity theft.

Multiple players open fire (literally!) against some off-screen enemies in Once Human. (Image credit: NetEase)

In the wake of these claims and complaints, developer Starry Studio and NetEase have responded in the official Once Human Discord server, attempting to assuage concerns by assuring players that data is only used if there’s a “legitimate legal basis” and explaining that you don’t have to use NetEase’s Loading Bay launcher to play the game if you don’t want to (many players don’t trust it).

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