A little while ago, I went to install a new escape game from the Google Play store only to read that the game required me to grant nearly a dozen permissions before it could be installed. I declined. Then I started wondering, why DO so many of these games need access to stuff on my phone? So, I did some research for all ya’ll.
The Short: I’ve come to the conclusion that I will only install app games that require zero permissions.
The two chief articles I read on the subject (see below) emphasize that when it comes to installing apps, you should evaluate permissions in context. If you are installing a new type of messaging app and it wants access to your contacts, that is probably legitimate. But with escape games, as far as I can tell, none of them really need anything from your phone in order to deliver a gaming experience. So there should be zero required before you install one.
One you are alert to the permissions sleight of hand, I think you will agree that many of them seem shady. So let me tell you about two that seem completely innocent but, based on what I’ve read, I do not think they are innocent at all:
Photos/Media/Files: I forget which article explained this but essentially when you give a game access to your photos, it is literally what it sounds like. The game can scan and access all of your photos and files. Presumably too they can then be shared or sold without your permission. Now, I don’t know about everyone but I have some photos on my phone that I would much rather keep to myself.
Device ID: This one could go either way I guess. The GreenBot article I list below has more information but essentially your phone has two different kinds of IDs. One is harmless to share and is probably being used by the game’s publishers to track how many unique devices are playing their game. The other type of ID is a much more private kind and, for some reason, this permission does not let you distinguish between the two IDs before accepting.
So, to summarize: Going forward I will only be reviewing games that require zero permissions. The majority of the ones I previously reviewed probably fall into this category anyway since I’m kind of a suspicious person but I apologize if one slipped through. For the record, there are plenty of games out there that require zero permissions. This only further underscores the fact that permissions should be treated as abnormal and not a necessary evil to play your games.