Surfshark’s new study ranked the most popular mobile games based on a data-hungriness index, allocating points depending on data collected and its sensitivity.
In the United Kingdom, the most popular apps, Chess – Play and Learn and Attack Hole – Black Hole Games, are ranked 42nd and 21st based on data hungriness.
Call of Duty: Mobile, Candy Crush Saga, and 8 Ball Pool are the most data-hungry ones, collecting up to 17 different data types. Globally, 8 Ball Pool is the most data-hungry app among the top 10 apps globally, followed by Subway Surfers and Gardenscapes.
In terms of data-hungriness, Chess – Play and Learn and Attack Hole – Black Hole Games, the two most popular games in the United Kingdom, secured 42nd and 21st positions, respectively.
Notably, neither Chess – Play and Learn nor Attack Hole – Black Hole Games collect more data points than the average of 9.3 but collect contact information, location data. Both games use data for third-party advertising.
Additionally, the study identified Call of Duty: Mobile, Candy Crush Saga, and 8 Ball Pool 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. Out of the 50 mobile gaming apps popular in the United Kingdom, 44 of them employ or share users’ data for third-party advertising purposes.
Furthermore, two games collect the precise user location. When apps collect precise location data, they can potentially reveal sensitive information, such as users’ home addresses, workplaces, daily routines, or frequently visited locations. Precise location data can be highly valuable to advertisers and marketers, enabling them to target users with location-based ads or offers. It also could be exploited by malicious actors and used for unauthorized tracking or profiling.
Says Gabriele Racaityte – Krasauske, a Spokeswoman at Surfshark:
“A significant number of gamers are unknowingly granting permission to share their personal data, unaware of where it ends up.
“In our global study of 510 mobile gaming apps, we discovered that the majority use activity tracking across other companies’ apps and websites and could transmit data to third parties, which may include tech companies, advertisers, or data brokers.
“This data can be exploited for purposes that extend beyond gaming, such as targeted marketing or market research. It is essential to thoroughly investigate before downloading anything on your phone.”
Out of the total 510 most popular games across 60 countries, 492 collect user data, and 446 allow tracking across other companies’ apps and websites. The data-hunger scores of apps in Canada, Germany, Australia, the United States, and Hungary are more than 10% higher than the total average. Canada’s most popular gaming apps are the most privacy-invasive.