Personal Data: Most Invasive Gaming Apps Revealed

Apps form part of our daily life. You don’t need to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy the multitude of gaming apps on the market. You play them, your kids play them. They seem harmless enough. Just a bit of fun, right?

Recently Apple updated their privacy policy giving us more information about what personal information apps require from us, and how they use it. It’s all too easy to click “Accept” without actually reading the terms and conditions we are accepting. You might not realize that these games share your location, purchase history, identifiers, and usage data with 3rd parties.

We analyzed 35 of the most popular games on the App Store to determine the answer to the following questions:

Methodology

For this study, epicwin researched the most popular gaming apps from the official Apple App Store Awards 2021[1]. We also conducted a survey of 4,839 gamers from our mailing list to find out their favorite gaming apps. Combining these two resources we determined the 35 most popular games to be included in our research.

The study used the Apple privacy labels featured in the App Store[2], which categorizes all the information that can be collected on users by apps. Specifically, the two categories we used were (1) Data Linked to You: this personal data may be collected and linked to your identity, and (2) Data Used to Track You: this personal data may be used to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.

Each app was given a rating based on the percentage of personal information collected in each category. The apps were then ranked from most invasive to least invasive in each category.

Finally, an overall rating was calculated based on the average percentage of personal data collected in each of the categories.

Gaming Apps Collecting Personal Data Linked to Your Identity

Key findings:

  • Pokémon GO collects 100% of the available personal data linked to your identity
  • Pokémon GO is the only app in the study that collects your “Health & Fitness” information
  • 51% of gaming apps use at least one category of personal data linked to your identity
  • 28% of gaming apps collect data on your location
  • 11% of gaming apps collect data on your contacts
  • 48% of gaming apps don’t collect any personal data linked to your identity. These include the popular Subway Surfers, Among Us! and Heads up! apps
Gaming apps that collect the MOST personal data linked to your identity
  1. Pokémon GO
  2. 8 Ball Pool™
  3. Call of Duty®: Mobile
  4. Roblox
  5. Bridge Race
  6. Stacky Dash
  7. Count Masters: Crowd Runner 3D
  8. High Heels!
  9. My Child Lebensborn
  10. Roof Rails
Gaming apps that collect the LEAST personal data linked to your identity
  1. Among Us!
  2. Clue: The Classic Mystery Game
  3. Farming Simulator 20
  4. Five Nights at Freddy’s
  5. Heads Up!
  6. Monopoly
  7. Nail Salon 3D
  8. Papa’s Mocharia To Go!
  9. Subway Surfers
  10. Sushi Roll 3D

Ranking based on the percentage of personal data categories used from “Data Linked to You” by selected iOS games.

Gaming Apps Sharing Your Personal Data With 3rd Parties

Key findings:

  • 8 Ball Pool™, Call of Duty®, Subway Surfers share 60% of personal data categories analyzed with 3rd parties including your location and contact information
  • 57% of gaming apps share at least one category of personal data with 3rd parties
  • 17% of gaming apps share your location with 3rd parties
  • 5% of gaming apps share your contact information with 3rd parties
  • 43% of gaming apps don’t share any personal data with 3rd parties. These include the popular Roblox, Minecraft and Among Us! apps
Gaming apps that share the MOST personal data with 3rd parties:
  1. 8 Ball Pool™
  2. Call of Duty®: Mobile
  3. Subway Surfers
  4. Water Sort Puzzle
  5. High Heels!
  6. Nail Salon 3D
  7. Project Makeover
  8. Roof Rails
  9. Shortcut Run
  10. Tangle Master 3D
Gaming apps that share the LEAST personal data with 3rd parties:
  1. Among Us!
  2. Bloons TD 6
  3. Farming Simulator 20
  4. Five Nights at Freddy’s
  5. Heads Up!
  6. Minecraft
  7. Monopoly
  8. My Child Lebensborn
  9. Roblox
  10. Stardew Valley

Ranking based on the percentage of personal data categories used to track you by selected iOS games.

How Much Personal Data Each Gaming App Is Tracking Overall

Using data from two categories – “Data Linked to You” and “Data Used to Track You” – we compiled an index showing the most invasive gaming apps on the market.

8 Ball Pool‪™‬, Call of Duty®: Mobile and Pokémon GO are the top 3 most invasive gaming apps.

The MOST invasive gaming apps
  1. 8 Ball Pool™
  2. Call of Duty®: Mobile
  3. Pokémon GO
  4. Water Sort Puzzle
  5. High Heels!
  6. Roof Rails
  7. Shortcut Run
  8. Tangle Master 3D
  9. The Game of Life 2
  10. Bridge Race
The LEAST invasive gaming apps
  1. Among Us‪!‬
  2. Bloons TD 5
  3. Farming Simulator 20
  4. Five Nights at Freddy’s
  5. Geometry Dash
  6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  7. Heads Up‪!‬
  8. Incredibox
  9. Monopoly
  10. Papa’s Mocharia To Go‪!‬

Ranking based on the average percentage of personal data categories used from “Data Linked to You” and “Data Used to Track You” by selected iOS games.

James Stephenson, founder of epicwin, said,

“We all spent a lot more time playing games on our phones last year. It was easy to hand our children our phones to distract them while we worked from home. Games gave us an escape from the reality of rising COVID numbers and other bad news.

“It’s frightening how easy it is to give up our personal data, and how easily we give it up. Most of us have no idea what information is being collected about us, or how it is used. It is my hope that this study can shed some light on the matter. At least when we know what’s happening with our personal data we can make informed decisions to keep ourselves and our children safe online.”

Fair Use Statement

We grant permission to use the images and data found on this page freely. When doing so, we ask that you kindly attribute the creators by linking to this page so your readers can learn more about the project and its methodology.