Red Shell ‘Spyware’ Tracks You From Your Games

A bunch of PC games have been caught with a piece of software that tracks your activity even when you’re not playing the game. Red Shell, named after a Mario Kart item, is software that’s designed for online marketers to track the effectiveness of various online campaigns. But a massive list of games have been found to contain this tool and it can track your activity even when the game is not being played.

Red Shell matches online activity against marketing campaigns that have been launched by third parties. the problem is, the tracking happens after you’ve left the game.

The discovery of Red Shell’s presence was revealed in a Subreddit early last week. Then, a couple of days ago, a long list of affected games was released. Already, a number of the game developers say they have either removed or are about to remove the software in response to the revelations.

The Reddit post also discusses how to check if a game you’re playing. You can look for either “Redshell.dll” or “RedshellSDK.dll” in the Steam install folders although it’s possible for developers to integrate that code into their own code so you won’t see them.

Again, we have a case of developers trying to find new revenue streams and not be completely upfront with their customers. Many of the developers are removing the software in response to player outcry.

Responding to Kortaku, Red Shell’s Adam Lieb said he feels like Red Shell has been mischaracterised by some players. He noted that Red Shell does not sell data to third parties, nor is it used for ad targeting in the traditional sense. It’s purpose is to help companies sort out which ads they’re already running are worthwhile.

While that sounds fairly innocuous, the reactions of gamers highlight the sensitivity that is growing in how we are tracked when online.

According to the Reddit thread, these are the affected games:

  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Conan Exiles
  • Ylands
  • Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?!
  • All Total War games
  • Warhammer: Vermintide I and Vermintide II
  • My Time At Portia
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Battlerite
  • AER Memories of Old
  • Magic the Gathering Arena
  • Secret World Legends
  • Hunt: Showdown
  • Escapists 2
  • Omensight
  • Civilization VI
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • Guardians of Ember
  • The Onion Knights
  • Realm Grinder
  • Heroine Anthem Zero
  • Warhammer 40k Eternal Crusade
  • Krosmaga
  • Eternal Card Game
  • Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
  • Astro Boy: Edge of Time
  • Ballistic Overkill
  • Cabals: Card Blitz
  • CityBattle | Virtual Earth
  • Desolate
  • Doodle God, Doodle God Blitz and Doodle God: Genesis Secrets
  • Dungeon Rushers
  • Labyrinth
  • My Free Farm 2
  • NosTale
  • RockShot
  • Shadowverse
  • SOS and SOS Classic
  • SoulWorker
  • Stonies
  • Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation
  • War Robots
  • Survived By
  • Injustice 2
  • The Wild Eight
  • Yoku’s Island Express
  • Raging Justice
  • Warriors: Rise to Glory!
  • Trailmakers
  • Clone Drone in the Danger Zone
  • Vaporum
  • Robothorium
  • League of Pirates


Leave a Reply