"We Own You"
September 17, 2015 9:45 AM   Subscribe

 
> You want to put a stop to this? Stop playing free games.

My work is done here ongoing!

*teleports away*
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:50 AM on September 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


This. This is why people block ads.
posted by odinsdream at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


see this is why I don't use facebook or apps and just voice all of my most personal thoughts and details on a wide variety of vast, public forums
posted by nogoodverybad at 9:54 AM on September 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


(not to undermine the very real fact that this is indeed both shitty, creepy, and imo unethical, but also sadly not all that surprising)
posted by nogoodverybad at 9:56 AM on September 17, 2015


Our spies have terrible grammar and spelling. Which is sort of insult to injury.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2015


Well, you can also just choose what personal details to share. I'm flummoxed by all of the people who list their birthdays on Facebook, and their home address, schools...
posted by Nevin at 9:58 AM on September 17, 2015


All that information these people claim to have about me, and still they can't help but show me ads for shit I already bought or are otherwise uninterested in.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:12 AM on September 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


I don't play F2P games for this reason, but I have played and am playing B2P games that I am sure also collect and track player data to a similar degree as their F2P counterparts. It's one of the reasons I really hate the proliferation of publisher networks (GOG, Origin, Ubiplay, and yeah, Steam) because I know they're mining me for as much personal info as they can get.

I do have a separate email and fake FB account (I don't have a real FB account) for all of these networks and I enjoy entering as much fake info as possible periodically (this month I'm a 90-year-old grandmother of seven). Hopefully that confuses some program or person somewhere, although I doubt it.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:12 AM on September 17, 2015


We don’t want to be making games like this

LOL then stop.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I purchased the Metafilter Maven package - - 100 comments for $8.99!
posted by fairmettle at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


So what you are saying, is there is a pretty decent job market in this for folks that can burn through 20g of data and make some sense out of it...

Huh... I hadn't considered joining the opposition until just now...

Understand though, a former boss of mine used to keep me a little under wraps to make sure projects got done properly, but - when he wanted to, he'd say, "OK, I'm pulling the pin and unleashing your force on this [ludicrously stupid] project. Then, with glee, I had permission to turn folks on their head and make them wish they'd never made such a [stupid] data request. There is no greater joy then making a "marketer's marketer" head spin by threatening them with a bullet-proof in-depth analysis on something and walking them through the complete list of caveats and sub-models required for their hideous and off the cuff specification change after the project is well under way. heh heh... nuke the project from orbit.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


We don’t want to be making games like this

LOL then stop.


LOL then "Buy a game for 4.99 or 9.99."
posted by incessant at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I purchased the Metafilter Maven package - - 100 comments for $8.99!

You should have waited for the weekend sale...only $4.99 and you get 5 free plates of beans.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


All that information these people claim to have about me, and still they can't help but show me ads for shit I already bought or are otherwise uninterested in.

me: *buys dragon age inquisition and all DLCs and all expansion packs for multiplayer and nothing else ever*
PS4: hey we think you might be interested in this new thing that is related to your recent purchases! it's here in a section we call Just For You!
me: ooh is it the most recent DLC that i have been checking for all day?
PS4: it's call of duty!
posted by poffin boffin at 10:21 AM on September 17, 2015 [32 favorites]


I'm a data scientist in the mobile free to play games industry and I was rolling my eyes pretty hard at this article.

We don't focus in on individual players. Something like Facebook-friending a high spending player with a fake account... yeah we'd never do that. It's preposterous and slimey, and treating players well (and dealing with them ethically) is kind of a big deal where I am.

The only time we care about demographic data (age, gender, etc) is user acquisition (UA). Most of the money we spend on a game goes to UA, not development costs. The dream is that if your game averages $3 per player over their lifetime and you can find a way to get users in for $2.80, then you can print money until you've saturated the market. The most important way to keep cost per install down is targeting your ads. So we'll test different creative , copy, and demographic targeting and see what works best. It's not that sinister. And note that this use of demographic data all happens before you install the game (and that the demographic data is held by Facebook and other ad partners, not by us).

Once you're in the game, we have data on how you're playing. Again, we don't focus in on individuals. The questions are more along the line of "Why are players churning out on level 6?", "How can we forecast 90 day revenue per install from the first 7 days of data?", "How does version A of the tutorial funnel perform better than version B?", "What's the ROI on localizing the game to another language?". Sometimes it is focused on monetization, absolutely, but it's always focused on trying to make the game more fun and more engaging.

Anyway, yeah, some free to play mobile companies are gross (Machine Zone, etc). It sounds like the author has worked for some of them. The problematic behavior he describes and suggests is the industry standard is not. (And honestly it sounds like the data science team there has a lot of catching up to do if what the author describes is actually how they're spending their time.)
posted by kprincehouse at 10:22 AM on September 17, 2015 [40 favorites]


Every time you play a free to play game, you just build this giant online database of who you are, who your friends are and what you like and don’t like. This data is sold, bought and traded between large companies I have worked for. You want to put a stop to this? Stop playing free games. Buy a game for 4.99 or 9.99. We don’t want to be making games like this, and we don’t want another meeting about retention, cohorts or churn.

STOP HITTING YOURSELF! STOP HITTING YOURSELF!

Dude, fuck you. As if you would stop gleefully harvesting player information if only the player would just pay you to stop. No, you would take those dollars and continue to monetize data the same way you always have. You could easily find another line of work if you're so disgusted with your own behavior. And by admitting to creating those fact sexygurl facebook bots, you've aligned yourself with every other shitty scammer on the planet. The difference between you and phishing scam is a matter of degrees.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:22 AM on September 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's hilarious to think of these companies spending so much money, time and effort to learn about me and market to me, when in a few decades (or less!) I'll be dead and absolutely none of the data they've collected will be of any value.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:33 AM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


All that information these people claim to have about me, and still they can't help but show me ads for shit I already bought or are otherwise uninterested in.

I buy lots of stuff from Amazon. I've tried several times to tell them what kind of books, movies, music, etc. I like and which ones I don't. They still are absolutely terrible at guessing what I might be interested in.

Where it comes to privacy issues, I mostly just want to avoid identity theft and awkward political/religious discussions with in-laws and employers.
posted by Foosnark at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


> LOL then "Buy a game for 4.99 or 9.99."

LOL what makes you think they won't be running analytics on you anyway? Even when there's no IAP or DLC there are still other games they want to sell you, as well as comarketing agreements with quotas to fulfill...
posted by ardgedee at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's hilarious to think of these companies spending so much money, time and effort to learn about me and market to me, when in a few decades (or less!) I'll be dead and absolutely none of the data they've collected will be of any value.

posted by Faint of Butt at 1:33 PM


FUTURE ANTHROPOLGIST: We aren't sure how they ate or lived, but we have detailed account transactions showing the average Flappy Bird player spent $2.80... Huh... and they thought beheading the losing team for a sporting event was a little insane for the Aztecs...
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:44 AM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm flummoxed by all of the people who list their birthdays on Facebook, and their home address, schools...

Yeah, not posting that info myself that works great right up until the date-stamped moment that Auntie Jill posts "Happy Birthday, sweetie, it seems like just yesterday that you graduated from Smorgasbord Academy and moved to Bethel!"

Auntie Jill knows my mother's maiden name, too, and she takes ALL the fun Facebook quizzes asking fun questions about your Animal Planet Host Name (maiden name and favorite wild animal. She is "Steagall Tiger"). It doesn't matter how privacy-savvy I am -- as long as I can't stomach unfriending Auntie Jill, I'm in thrall to her privacy practices.

(Auntie Jill is an amalgam of several older relatives of mine. Yes, I could just leave Facebook, but my college network is native to Facebook and I'd be cutting out a lot of connections by doing so, which has its own costs. I compromise by keeping the account open but never, ever, ever posting or Liking anything.)
posted by pie ninja at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


And if you are a whale, we take Facebook stalking to a whole new level.

*signs author to that new wonderful free to play game, kayak quest*
posted by pyramid termite at 10:57 AM on September 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think the general sentiment is the amount of data collected would be a small price to pay if this data was used intelligently. I would love it if Amazon or Steam or whoever could actually direct me toward products or games I'm genuinely interested in.

This is the problem. Collecting the data is easy, but figuring out how to make good use of that data is hard.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


PS4: hey we think you might be interested in this new thing that is related to your recent purchases! it's here in a section we call Just For You!

I was on the Guardian news website yesterday, as I am very regularly, and the ad it chose for me? "Get a service for your Bentley Continental from only £649." I don't drive, my SO has a small Daihatsu.
posted by biffa at 11:30 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So an IAP is an in-app purchase, but what the hell is a DAU?

The only mobile game I have is Mobilityware's Solitaire, which has no IAP's, but it definitely hands out way more solvable (or more easily-solvable) deals, and I'm sure it's finely-tuned to maximize views of the interstitial ads.
posted by clorox at 11:38 AM on September 17, 2015


what the hell is a DAU?

Daily active user(s).
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:51 AM on September 17, 2015


This article is BS. It's written by "anonymous" because the supposed Big Time Indy Game Producer (TM) is a troll.
posted by Docrailgun at 12:25 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it is focused on monetization, absolutely, but it's always focused on trying to make the game more fun and more engaging.

This is the company line. And no matter what your company line is, you have to understand whether the true reason the game was made was to make an interesting game, or it was to separate people from their cash. It almost every single case I've seen, it is the latter. And frankly, from what you are saying, I don't think you are the exception to the rule.

It's certainly realistic to want to make a living making games, but let's be perfectly honest, the software people are using for a lot of these F2P's is largely secondary. If the game was just a big red button, and people enjoyed spending money to push it without any data science needed, most companies sell the fuck out of that without a care in the world. Even though the game itself is actually a shit game. Be careful that you're not pretending you are making anything other than a slot machine.

There are precious few F2P games that aren't slot machines. The low budget ones that aren't are usually pushed in the F2P direction by all the other crap that's out there devaluing mobile games. Sometimes you see ones where the game tuning for quality vs quantity does take some priority, but that's usually when the game itself is early on in production, or has a very high budget (eg. 3d MMORPH) and even then the quantity is still always, always first.
posted by smidgen at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2015


But the question is good: why are they so bad at targetting me when they have so much of my data?
I'm female and listed as married on facebook and I still get "Meet Jewish girls" ads. Huh?
No one has ever given me a useful answer to that.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:42 PM on September 17, 2015


I'm female and listed as married on facebook and I still get "Meet Jewish girls" ads. Huh?
No one has ever given me a useful answer to that.


Have you tried meeting any Jewish girls? Maybe you'd really like it. Big Data never lies.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


> This article is BS. It's written by "anonymous" because the supposed Big Time Indy Game Producer (TM) is a troll.

What do you recommend we read for further information about this?
posted by ardgedee at 6:23 PM on September 17, 2015


And no matter what your company line is, you have to understand whether the true reason the game was made was to make an interesting game, or it was to separate people from their cash

I was not regurgitating a company line. I was describing, accurately imo, the kind of work I do every day. It's a topic I know well.

You posit that there is one "true reason", and it can only be one of two extremes. That's not consistent with my experience. Rather, the challenge is always to make something that succeeds both as a game and as a product.

Be careful that you're not pretending you are making anything other than a slot machine.

You will find few people who dislike casino games and exploitative monetization models more than I do. I am not making slot machines.

There are precious few F2P games that aren't slot machines.

Looking at the top grossing 30 right now (US, iOS), I see ten that I'd consider to be "slot machines," the nine (!) casino games and Game of War. Maybe we're operating with different definitions, but I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that a game like Clash or Candy Crush is a slot machine by any reasonable stretch of the imagination. Even a game like Puzzles and Dragons, which strongly features a gacha mechanic, can't really be adequately described as a "slot machine" -- there's a lot more to it and it's really quite good.
posted by kprincehouse at 6:51 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to play F2P games on the principle that I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for some stupid phone app when you can get so much for free.

But one day I woke up and asked why was I doing this to myself? Why was I punching myself in the face with these horrible games when the kind of high-quality game that would cost $30 anywhere else would only cost me literally pocket change to have mobile, in my pocket, everywhere.

I've been happily enjoying nothing but high-quality entertainment ever since. And my wallet hasn't even noticed.

These days, "in-app-purchases" is useful for filtering out the irritating and the dross.
posted by anonymisc at 6:54 PM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, what I don't quite get is...the whole article seems predicated on "...and if you then link the game to a Facebook account, then (bad shit)" The closest caveat is "You might not use Facebook, but your connections give you away. If you play with friends, or you have a significant other who plays, we can see the same IP address, and learn who you are playing with."

Okay, so I play FTP games. I don't link any of them to my Facebook account. My wife hates games, so she doesn't play. My kids play, but they don't even have Facebook accounts. And, as far as I know, Facebook uses its own advertising provision, so its not like if an advertiser shows an ad on Facebook, and an ad on a game, it will connect the Facebook account to the game.

So, while I'm sure Facebook knows me better than I know myself, it seems to me that ScuzzyGameDev has zero access to that data and knows...my country, the type of device I'm running, and what time of day/day of week I play. And that's about it, right? All the rest of the info they would get would just be internal stuff ("Hey, guys, Bugbread really likes the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, but he hates playing Infection mode!") Am I missing something?
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 PM on September 17, 2015


That reminds me, I really need to get back to opening those 20,000 Vault-Tec lunchboxes in my edited Fallout Shelter save file. I've barely put a dent in them.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:49 PM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Arguably (by his own point), he has enough data at his fingertips that we need not need to know his identity. We just need to purchase well placed adverts that let him know exactly what we think of targeted adverts.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:12 PM on September 17, 2015


Bugbread: Okay, so I play FTP games. I don't link any of them to my Facebook account. ... So, while I'm sure Facebook knows me better than I know myself, it seems to me that ScuzzyGameDev has zero access to that data and knows...my country, the type of device I'm running, and what time of day/day of week I play.

I can maybe help here. So there are two main areas your data can come into play: Game related advertising, and ScuzzyGameDev stuff. You only asked about the second but I'm going to mention the first because I think it's important to complete the picture.

So before you even download ScuzzyGame, advertisers probably know something about you. Your device has a few unique identifiers that apps can see. For iOS, the one that matters here is IDFA (ID for advertisers). Say you've recently played two other games, and both those games showed you ads from the same ad network. That ad network logs that it showed ads to your IDFA from these games, and when ScuzzyGameDev approaches the ad network to market ScuzzyGame, the ad network can try to optimize where it shows ads by using the data it has about what you've played before. Ad networks that can deliver high-quality, inexpensive players get business.

Or maybe there's a third party SDK in a game that didn't even show you an ad--when the article talks about putting 20-30 SDKs into a game, those are third parties who provide various services (hosting ads, marketing/UA performance tracking, game analytics, Facebook) and I would guess that all of them record your IDFA (and country, ip, language setting, device type, etc). I'm not sure how much they share data with each other, but I wouldn't think it's that much, because their knowledge is their competitive advantage. (Game developers also aren't too keen about third parties sharing data about their players, either.) A lot of what they "know" might be not about you specifically but inferred--they don't know your age and gender, but they can guess based on what apps they've seen you use, that sort of thing.

I can tell you that the good advertisers really perform noticeably better (and can charge a bit of a premium). Facebook is a major place to buy ads, and it knows a lot about what a lot of people like, and when we buy ads the average "lifetime value" of someone who came from a well-configured Facebook campaign is going to be higher than most. So, whatever is in the black box, they are able to translate what they know about you into a business.

I don't know much about the details of the various services, though. As far as I understand, it's all rather opaque and proprietary. We don't really use any that I can think of these days where I'm at (we don't host ads and we use a lot of internal tools). From what I know, the mainstream ones are all fairly benign... I mean, nothing they do is particularly unique to game marketing, it's just how marketing works, and it's mildly gross like all marketing is mildly gross. That said, there are some borderline and bad ones. (Some claim to see other apps installed on your device, which I feel sorta has its foot on the line, and I've read about scammy fake advertisers that essentially defraud their customers by pretending to show you hundreds of ads, and that'll waste your bandwidth/battery).

So that's the advertising half. Oh, also, you can reset your IDFA in your iOS settings somewhere, which will make you look like a new device to all (I think?) of these SDKs. Or you can turn it off entirely.

Ok, so let's say you see four ads for ScuzzyGame, click the last one, install the game, and launch it. The ad networks record the views and the click because they each want to get paid, Apple records the install but doesn't tell anybody, and ScuzzyGameDev records an event saying that you launched the game. (If you're offline and the game allows offline play, they event is probably buffered on the device. Offline is a whole thing I won't go into here.)

ScuzzyGameDev doesn't really know that much. It knows your IP (and approximate location), OS, IDFA, IDFV, device type, and device settings like language, region, time, and timezone. Any SDKs in ScuzzyGame wake up and can know this, too. If you have played a game from ScuzzyGameDev before (on the same device via IDFA/IDFV or if you connect to the same Facebook / Game Center account), ScuzzyGameDev might recognize you and be able to link your player id to previous game play data.

From here, the SDKs do some stuff, and ScuzzyGameDev can do some stuff. SDKs like Tune (formerly Mobile App Tracking) that help manage user acquisition will ping home with an install event, and they pass that on to advertisers, so your playerid can be joined to the user acquisition channel that brought you in (the ad network, creative, copy, where the ad was shown, or "organic" if you just showed up). They can also get notified later if you make an in-app purchase, because ScuzzyGameDev and the ad networks want to know which ad campaigns are performing well. The more sophisticated ones can accept somewhat more granular data as you play, too--recording things like how many player complete the tutorial, in order to use that to help optimize campaign spend.

Third party off-the-shelf analytics tools have APIs that let the developer see logins, daily active users, purchases, and usually have some kind of way to record and visualize more detailed game-specific behavior (passing or failing a level, etc). There are a lot of these, and they feed into slick web apps that let ScuzzyGameDev measure the success of the product as well as tune the game (difficulty, etc) and identify problems (people getting stuck, crashes on a certain device, etc). Other SDKs may help run A/B tests or specialize in crash reporting. I'm sure there are more I don't know about.

Generally speaking, if ScuzzyGameDev is a larger, older, or more sophisticated shop, they'll have some kind of internal data analysis infrastructure instead instead of off-the-shelf tools (not to knock the off-the-shelf stuff, it's quite impressive these days). That way, ScuzzyGameDev can collect a bunch of data about the important things that happen as you progress through the game and use that to try to make it better, both as a game and as a product. I think it's where things start to get interesting and it's the part that I get to do.

But it's also where the answer to your question ends. I want to know how long it takes to load the game, what level players get to on their first day, where they drop out, and which units are too strong. I want to know how much wood they have stored on average at level 3 and how many times they interact with friends in the game. I want to run A/B tests to see how starting currency impacts early conversion. But I have no desire to know your name or gender or what your hobbies are. I don't have any of that in my data warehouse. Maybe ScuzzyGameDev has some scheme that would let it see if Facebook-connected players like "cats" on Facebook so it could serve a custom targeted cat costume promotion to the player in real time but... that's a really technologically sophisticated process to do something so very pointless. Simple things like how many minutes you play on your first day tell us so much more about how to make the games better.

So, yeah. That's about it. Advertisers are keen to know what you like and will build little partial pictures of you where they can. Free to play games both buy ads and host ads, so they're part of the modern digital marketing complex, and advertisers' dogged interest in what you like is unsettling. That's all true. A major part of working with game data is identifying cohorts who will on average spend more than it cost to acquire them, so game data is connected to the marketing side, but at this stage the creepiness (I feel) goes way down. It's true that I want to know which ad brought you in so I can group up all the people who clicked the same and in order to know if I should keep running it, and the advertiser originally chose that ad to show you because they know you like Pinterest, Angry Birds, and the Economist and have an iPhone 6 and live in Ontario and might be a 28-35 year old woman. That's how ads work, and they work that way for $4.99 games, too. In my experience, though, the more startling claims in the original article about the evils being done with data for the purposes of player manipulation just aren't grounded. It doesn't work like that. If there is any place that does it that way, for the love of god, someone please tell them to stop because they are doing it all wrong.
posted by kprincehouse at 1:56 AM on September 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Perhaps English is not your first language. We use all of this to send you personalized Push Notifications, and show you store specials and items we think you will want.

So this is why I get those really annoying ads in Spanish? I use English 99% of the time, except when I email relatives or once in a blue moon when I google recipes. I guess they can tell I am playing games with people who live in my native country.

I find the ads in Spanish intensely creepy and really freaking annoying. In part because most ad writers think Hispanic = Mexican, or they have laughably stereotypical ideas of what my life is like.
posted by Tarumba at 5:24 AM on September 18, 2015


I'd love to know who the Green Card Ad Network is. There are certain sites that, instead of showing a rotating roll of ad banners, exclusively show "Get a U.S. green card!" ads. I'm guessing that since I live in Japan and am reading an English language website, the ad network looks for ads which match conditions "Location = Japan, Language = English" and serves up any ads which match those conditions...and there's only one advertiser which is targeting ads at that combination of conditions, so it's just green cards 24/7.
posted by Bugbread at 7:31 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that a game like Clash or Candy Crush is a slot machine by any reasonable stretch of the imagination. Even a game like Puzzles and Dragons,

My definition is not as literal, I guess. If a game relies on manipulative tactics to keep you playing (and paying), it's a slot machine derivative. And I'm *certainly* not hard pressed to argue that Candy Crush is a slot machine. But, believe what you want...
posted by smidgen at 3:20 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm generally with kprincehouse on this one; I did data science for the game industry too (at a 3rd-party analytics provider), but have since moved on to retail (again at a 3rd-party provider, because I prefer to work at startups).

I find smidgen's commentary a bit heavy on the cynicism, as it overlooks the assumption that pretty much underlies all for-profit business: you get someone to pay you by providing something that's worth more to them than the price you're charging. In the case of gaming, that means you make your game more engaging, more interesting, more fun, etc., so that people are willing to spend money on it.

You can bicker until you're blue in the face as to whether all of these words are some sort of elaborate code for addictive games that compel people to spend money through psychological trickery, but my own experience with the industry tells me that if it is an elaborate code, it's at least as much for insiders to fool themselves as anyone else, as it was a pretty consistent belief among my coworkers, in addition to being a marketing line. Let that sink in for a moment: it was the marketing line at a 3rd party provider: if our customers (the studios) were cynically nickel-and-diming their customers, then we'd have been selling our product on its ability to improve the extractive attributes of their products. That wasn't how we sold it because that's not what they believed, and I'm pretty sure that continues to this day.
posted by kiwano at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


assumption that pretty much underlies all for-profit business: you get someone to pay you by providing something that's worth more to them than the price you're charging.

While true, this is vacuous because it leaves a whole lot unsaid. If you are ethical, you provide real worth to the customers and price accordingly. If you are not, you heavily manipulate customers to create the demand.

If the game isn't worth enough, then customers won't value it and won't pay. The goal of the analytics therefore is to tune the game such that customers will value it enough to continue to pay. Innocent enough, but the real measure is whether they are paying, not whether the game is "engaging" or any other such bullshit. That is, when someone drops a quarter into a slot machine, it is *also* worth it to them to do so. Just because you are providing "what people want" doesn't mean it's ethical.

There is a reason candy crush has a time restriction you must pay to relieve.
posted by smidgen at 8:29 PM on September 19, 2015


</cynic>
posted by smidgen at 8:35 PM on September 19, 2015


Facebook has its own app analytics platform, and even if you don't log into a particular app/game using Facebook, Facebook can connect the two fairly easily if you do anything Facebook related on the same device. Facebook then provides demographic data to the game's developer which is better than the data the developer could gather directly, since Facebook already has significant amount of data since they're Facebook.
posted by fragmede at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2015


So, earnest question:

I play F2P games (match-3 games, OMG). I don't buy in-app purchases. I don't link to Facebook. I never intentionally click on ads. (Ok, except for occasionally watching a "video" in AlphaBears for some sweet, sweet honey.)

Am I somewhat less vulnerable because of those practices?
posted by Archer25 at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2015


A little less, but not really invulnerable.

So, to take Facebook as an example (there are many others) -- you know those facebook "like" links you never click on? Well, when a page loads the little "like" button, the button checks a cookie on your browser and potentially runs a script to id your browser (I forget the exact details now). But the basic idea is that even if you were never on facebook, they know where a particular browser has been (and can estimate where it was going, badly).

If you *are* on facebook, then you're done -- they know who you are by correlating the browser which logs into facebook and the one which passes over the "like" links on pages.

Almost all ad networks work this way. They track some kind of identifier across the web, and strive to hook up real information to that.
posted by smidgen at 9:19 AM on September 23, 2015


it's just green cards 24/7

It's 1994 all over again!
posted by exogenous at 9:22 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I first got on the internet (usenet), I was using my real name, and my school put part of ones social security number in the username. What goes around...
posted by smidgen at 9:29 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


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