Popular gaming apps in India, and globally, collect data unreasonably

A new study by Surfshark ranks the most popular mobile games based on a data-hungriness index, allocating points depending on data collected and its sensitivity.

Globally, 8 Ball Pool is the most data-hungry app among the top 10 apps globally, followed by Subway Surfers and Gardenscapes.

The system assigns a score based on the quantity and hunger of the data collected which includes data not linked to a user's identity (like app crash data), data linked to a user's identity, and data that could potentially track you on apps and websites.

However, since the data is sourced from Apple’s App Store while markets like India are Android heavy, the study's conclusion that Asian countries tend to be on the lower end of the data hungriness spectrum compared to their Western counterparts might not be completely accurate.

Source: Surfshark

Out of the 50 mobile gaming apps popular in India, 38 of them employ or share users' data for third-party advertising purposes.

In terms of data-hungriness, Ludo King and Subway Surfers, the two most popular games in India, secured 38th and 7th positions, respectively. Notably, only Subway Surfers collects more than the average, including contact information and location data. Of course, both games use data for third-party advertising.

The study identified Call of Duty: Mobile, Candy Crush Saga, and Carrom Pool: Disc Game as the top three worst gaming apps for privacy, collecting up to 17 out of 32 different data points, including photos and videos, contact information, location data, contacts.

According to a Surfshark spokesperson, a significant number of gamers are unknowingly granting permission to share their personal data, unaware of where it ends up – including tech companies, advertisers, and data brokers. This data can be exploited for purposes that extend beyond gaming, such as targeted marketing or market research.

As an aside, Traffic Rider, Mini Militia, and Among Us were the least invasive to privacy in the analysis collecting only 7 data points validating that excessive information collected by the other apps may not be necessary for the app to function.

Abhishek Baxi

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