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Statement regarding shared user data within our game

Dear Tinkerers,

In the past few days, we have received several reports from you regarding our game unintentionally accessing your microphone data and collecting data from you during gameplay. To avoid confusion, we would like to address these raised concerns clearly and explain exactly what happened in this case.

The Short Version:

  • Due to a bug in version 1.0, PlayFab’s voice chat feature could be enabled in multiplayer under certain circumstances, putting you in a private voice chat lobby.
  • With version 1.0.1, this bug was fixed. According to PlayFab, no audio data is stored or processed. We have never had access to audio data.
  • The option to share anonymized user data with us via Unity Analytics is unrelated to the microphone bug.
  • We cannot attribute this anonymized user data to any natural person.
  • The shared data contained only in-game events like items crafted, quests completed, etc, which would have helped us balance the game.
  • Since version 1.0.2, we have completely disabled the option to share anonymized user data via Unity. In 1.0.2 it was greyed out, and later completely removed in 1.0.3.
  • With the latest update, you will find an EULA at the beginning of the game. You now have the opportunity to trace in detail which data Tinkertown accesses and whether and how it is processed by us or external partners.
  • This EULA must be accepted to play Tinkertown. You can read it beforehand on our homepage.
  • We’re sorry for any confusion and inconvenience this may have caused.

The Full Explanation:

Microphone Usage in Tinkertown

To enable multiplayer sessions in Tinkertown, we utilize the „PlayFab“ service from Microsoft Azure. This SDK supports the ability to access your microphone for features such as in-game voice chat or text-to-speech analysis. Version 1.0 of Tinkertown contained a bug that could activate your microphone under certain conditions and started a private voice chat within PlayFab, even though we had no intend to use this feature. After you brought this issue to our attention, we fixed this bug with version 1.0.1.

We consulted with PlayFab regarding the implications for your data. PlayFab assured us that voice audio is never stored anywhere. If the network connections were relayed connections, the voice data would have passed through the nearest Azure region used by PlayFab’s service, determined by QoS latency measurements per player. Since Tinkertown never used any accessibility features like speech-to-text, the data would not have been processed at all, only relayed.

If the players were connected through a peer-to-peer network, their voice data would not have passed through the relay at all and would have traveled via the internet. Approximately 92% of connections were P2P in the last 6 months. All traffic sent via Party, including voice, is encrypted.

Our team never had access to your voice transmissions at any time, and we still do not have the ability to access your voice data.

Shared User Data

To continually improve Tinkertown, there was an option for you to share anonymized data with us via Unity. Until version 1.0, this option was enabled by default. The anonymized data helped us make adjustments to the player experience and fix bugs. This anonymized data could not be attributed to any specific player.

With the release of version 1.0, some users raised concerns that this option was enabled by default. With version 1.0.1, we added a pop-up dialog at the first game launch, asking if you would like to share this anonymized data with us or not.

It is important to emphasize once again that the anonymized data you could have shared with us had no connection to the microphone bug. These are two completely unrelated topics.

However, due to the confusion caused by these reports we have decided, as a precaution, to completely disable the option to share anonymized user data with version 1.0.2. Consequently, the option in the menu is currently grayed out. Since version 1.0.2, there is no way to share user data. This means that when you start Tinkertown now, you do not need to decide whether you want to share anonymized user data because we aren’t collecting user data.

What Happens Next

First and foremost, we would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused. It took us some time to recognize and address all the issues and seek advice on how to handle such cases. Our team has made significant efforts in improving this situation in the past few days. We understand that you were and still are concerned, and we would like to prevent that from now on with the latest update.

From now on, when you start the game for the first time, you will find an End User License Agreement (EULA) where you can read all the details about how services can access data from Tinkertown and in what manner. This EULA must be accepted to start playing Tinkertown. If you do not agree to the EULA, you will not be able to play Tinkertown. With this approach, we aim to provide the highest level of transparency, allowing you to play Tinkertown without any uneasiness. Within the EULA, you now have the opportunity to trace in detail which data Tinkertown accesses and whether and how it is processed by us or external partners.

We hope that this step will help us regain your trust. The reviews criticizing our game have deeply affected us. We would like to ask you to give Tinkertown a second chance, and we would be grateful if we could alleviate your concerns about your data through this explanation.

If you have any further questions, we are here to assist you.

Your Team at Headup