Once Human Review-Bombed Over Privacy ToS

Once Human review-bombed on Steam over privacy concerns with extensive ToS.

Once Human game logo with players expressing privacy concerns in reviews
Image Credit: Critical Hits

Once Human Review-Bombed on Steam Over “Excessive” ToS

The gaming world has seen its fair share of controversies, especially when it comes to free-to-play titles. In recent weeks, two notable games have faced severe backlash from the gaming community. The First Descendant was recently criticized for its “predatory” monetization practices and suspicious drop rates. Now, Once Human, which launched just yesterday, has become the latest target of a review-bombing campaign on Steam due to significant privacy concerns.

“Identity Theft Speedrun”

When gamers start a new title, they typically expect to agree to a terms of service (ToS) document. However, Once Human has taken this expectation to a new level by requesting a “government-issued ID” as part of its terms. This has raised considerable alarm among players.

In the “Personal Information we receive from you” section of the privacy policy, the game states it may collect “first and last name, title, prefix, email address, telephone number, (instant) messaging account, postal address, date of birth, age, gender, country/region, and government-issued ID, such as passport information.” This extensive data collection has unsettled the game’s fledgling community, leading to a wave of negative reviews on Steam. Dozens of players have shared their distrust and dissatisfaction with these terms, contributing to the game’s mixed rating.

Also Read:- Ark of Charon Early Access Review: Unique Colony Sim

“One of my fastest ‘Uninstalled’ games so far. The Privacy Policy is a no-go for me,” one user wrote. Many others echoed this sentiment, stating that the ToS made them immediately “close” or “uninstall” the game.

Another player described the game as an “identity theft speedrun,” a term that resonated with many others who compared it to spyware. Some users even reported that upon launching the game, other programs were mysteriously opened in the background on their PCs.

As of now, the game has garnered over 3,000 reviews on Steam, with a mixed rating and only 56% of those reviews being positive.

Netease’s Official Response

Recognizing the flood of negative reviews, Starry Studio, a subsidiary of developer and publisher Netease, quickly addressed the concerns by releasing a statement on Once Human’s official Discord server.

The statement clarified that the company would only collect government-issued IDs when “local laws require us to do so, when the identity of a user’s parent must be verified to obtain consent for their child, or when the user wishes to correct their age information.” They emphasized that “ID information is deleted immediately after we have fulfilled the purpose for collecting it.”

The statement also mentioned that the collection of “information such as social media account usernames, names, and addresses” occurs only in user surveys that players can choose to participate in. Players can “provide as much or as little information in these surveys if they choose to respond at all.”

Also Read:- Zenless Zone Zero Review: Urban Combat RPG

While these reassurances may help ease some concerns, the initial backlash highlights the importance of transparency and trust in the gaming community.

A Positive Sign of Responsiveness

It is encouraging to see Netease’s responsiveness to player feedback, as this is their second statement within the first 24 hours of Once Human’s launch. Shortly after the game’s release, players were disappointed to learn that they could only create one character, which would be permanently locked to a single server. Starry Studio quickly addressed this issue, confirming on their official Discord that “multiple-character creation is now available!”

This quick reaction to player feedback shows a willingness to listen and adapt, which is crucial for maintaining a positive relationship with the gaming community.

The Game’s Premise: Once Human

Once Human takes the massively multiplayer online (MMO) genre in new directions, placing players in the role of a Meta-Human in a post-apocalyptic future. In this dark and chaotic world, players must survive Stardust, an alien creature that infects and influences the environment.

The game offers a unique blend of survival and action elements, challenging players to navigate a world teeming with danger. As a Meta-Human, players possess special abilities that aid in their fight against the alien menace and other hostile forces.

The game’s setting and narrative are richly detailed, providing an immersive experience for players. The post-apocalyptic world is filled with ruins, mutated creatures, and remnants of a once-thriving civilization, creating a hauntingly beautiful backdrop for the game’s events.

Also Read:- Aska Early Review: Survival Meets Village Building

Expanded Analysis and Commentary

The controversy surrounding Once Human’s privacy policy highlights a broader issue within the gaming industry: the balance between user data collection and player trust. In an era where personal data is increasingly valuable, players are becoming more cautious about the information they share.

The Importance of Transparency

Transparency is key when it comes to data collection. Players need to understand why their data is being collected, how it will be used, and what measures are in place to protect their privacy. In Once Human’s case, the initial lack of clear communication about the necessity and use of government-issued IDs led to significant distrust.

Building Trust in the Gaming Community

Building and maintaining trust in the gaming community is essential for the success of any game, especially free-to-play titles that rely heavily on player engagement and microtransactions. Developers must prioritize clear and honest communication to foster a positive relationship with their audience.

Also Read:- BLUD Review: Nostalgic Dungeon Crawler Fun

The Role of Community Feedback

The swift response from Netease and Starry Studio demonstrates the importance of community feedback. By addressing player concerns promptly and transparently, developers can show that they value their community’s input and are committed to providing a positive gaming experience.

Balancing Innovation and Privacy

As games become more sophisticated and immersive, the amount of data collected from players is likely to increase. However, this must be balanced with robust privacy protections and transparent data practices to ensure players feel secure and respected.

FAQs About Once Human and Its Privacy Concerns

Q: What is the main issue with Once Human’s privacy policy?

A: The primary concern is the game’s request for extensive personal information, including a government-issued ID, which has raised significant privacy and security worries among players.

Q: Why does Once Human ask for a government-issued ID?

A: According to Netease, the ID is only required when local laws mandate it, to verify parental consent for child players, or to correct age information. The company states that the ID information is deleted immediately after fulfilling its purpose.

Q: How has the gaming community reacted to Once Human’s privacy policy?

A: The reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, with many players review-bombing the game on Steam and expressing their discomfort and distrust in the game’s terms of service.

Q: What steps has Netease taken to address these concerns?

A: Netease and Starry Studio have released statements clarifying their data collection practices and reassuring players that the information is only collected when necessary and is promptly deleted after use.

Also Read:- Kingdom Hearts Steam Deck Review

Q: Has Netease made any other changes based on player feedback?

A: Yes, following feedback about the limitation of creating only one character locked to a single server, Starry Studio quickly updated the game to allow multiple character creation.

Q: What is Once Human about?

A: Once Human is an MMO that places players in the role of a Meta-Human in a post-apocalyptic world. Players must survive against the alien threat of Stardust while navigating a dark and chaotic environment.

Q: How can players protect their privacy while playing Once Human?

A: Players should carefully review the privacy policy and consider the implications of sharing personal information. It’s also advisable to use privacy tools and settings to limit data sharing where possible.

Q: Is it common for games to ask for government-issued IDs?

A: It is not common for games to request government-issued IDs. Such requests typically occur only in specific circumstances, such as verifying age or parental consent, and should be clearly justified.

Also Read:- The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road Chapter

Q: What should players do if they feel uncomfortable with a game’s privacy policy?

A: If players are uncomfortable with a game’s privacy policy, they should refrain from playing the game and seek clarification from the developers. Voicing concerns through reviews and community forums can also prompt developers to address and rectify issues.

Q: How can developers improve trust regarding privacy policies?

A: Developers can improve trust by being transparent about data collection practices, providing clear justifications for the information requested, and ensuring robust data protection measures. Regular communication and responsiveness to community feedback are also crucial.


The review-bombing of Once Human on Steam due to its privacy policy underscores the delicate balance between data collection and player trust. While the game itself offers a unique and immersive experience, the controversy highlights the need for transparency and robust privacy protections in the gaming industry.

Netease’s swift response to player concerns is a positive sign, demonstrating their commitment to listening to their community and making necessary adjustments. As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, maintaining player trust through clear communication and respect for privacy will remain paramount.

Once Human’s journey is a reminder to developers of the importance of prioritizing player trust and the impact of community feedback. By fostering an open and honest relationship with their audience, developers can navigate controversies and build a loyal player base for their games.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top