Google Play Games v5.6 may add ability to delete select game data from Play Games servers [APK Teardown]

Personal privacy is and probably always will be a difficult topic now that a digital lifestyle has become indelibly linked to our culture. It’s not enough to stop using a service, we should be able to have data deleted from the servers just in case a hacker manages to gain access. Google Play Games has long offered the ability to erase entire profiles, which includes the Gamer ID, XP, scores, and any other data saved to its servers. Now there’s text suggesting we’ll get the ability to be picky and wipe individual games from the record while leaving everything else intact.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android’s application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It’s possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it’s officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don’t expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Delete individual game data

Delete Play Games Data

The evidence for this one is pretty clear, a description states very simply that you can delete data for individual games you’ve played. This will clear the scores, progress, and game settings for that game. Another line points out that data will be deleted within 24 hours.

Delete individual game data
Delete individual data for games you’ve played using Google Play Games. This will delete your scores, progress, and game settings for the game you select.
Your data for “%1$s” will be deleted within 24 hours.
Delete data for “%1$s”
Deleting data for “%1$s”
Deleting…
Deleting your data for “%1$s” will remove your scores, progress, and game settings you have provided using Google Play Games.nnThis action cannot be undone!
Delete data for “%1$s”?
There was an error deleting your data for “%1$s”. Please try again later.
Delete

I think it’s worth noting that the text seems almost intentionally non-specific about whether local data will also be deleted.

The data deletion options don’t quite stop with wiping the history of games one-by-one. There may also be a feature to delete data from all archived games. I’m not actually sure what an ‘archived game’ is, but my current guess would be that it’s referring to games that have been uninstalled after being played and storing some data on Play Games servers.

Data from archived games
Delete data from archived games.
Deleting your data from archived games will remove your scores, progress, and game settings you have provided using Google Play Games.nnThis action cannot be undone!
Delete data from archived games?
There was an error deleting your data from archived games. Please try again later.
Your data from archived games will be deleted within 24 hours.

Failed to load list of games you have played using Google Play Games. Please try again later.
Loading list of games you have played using Google Play Games.
Retry

There are also a few new strings related to deleting a profile, but of course, that functionality is already available and this text doesn’t suggest there’s anything meaningfully different.

Delete profile
Delete all your data in Google Play Games, including your Gamer ID and XP. This may also delete your scores, progress, and settings in games you’ve played.
Delete profile & all data
Deleting data from archived games.
Showing “Delete Play Games Data” page.
Delete Play Games data

There are also updated versions of the fine print for creating or saving a gamer profile. There are general phrasing changes, but the main addition is a passage that specifies you can “delete data stored with Google subject to Google’s privacy policy.” The old text makes no mention of deleting or removing your data, even though it was already possible to do that.

New version:
You can use your Gamer ID in games that support Play Games login. When you play a game, a developer receives your profile information, activity and purchases in the game. Developers use this data to provide and improve the game, subject to their privacy policies. Learn more. nnYou can edit your profile and settings, or delete data stored with Google subject to Google’s privacy policy. To agree, tap ‘Create.’
You can use your Gamer ID in games that support Play Games login. When you play a game, a developer receives your profile information, activity and purchases in the game. Developers use this data to provide and improve the game, subject to their privacy policies. Learn more. nnYou can edit your profile and settings, or delete data stored with Google subject to Google’s privacy policy. To agree, tap ‘Save.’

Old version:
You will use your Gamer ID to play games that support Play Games login. Developers of these games will receive your profile information, game activity, and purchases within their games subject to their privacy policies. Learn more. nnYou can change your Gamer ID and settings. Google’s collection and use of game activity data is subject to Google’s privacy policy. To agree, tap ‘Create.’
You will use your Gamer ID to play games that support Play Games login. Developers of these games will receive your profile information, game activity, and purchases within their games subject to their privacy policies. Learn more. nnYou can change your Gamer ID and settings. Google’s collection and use of game activity data is subject to Google’s privacy policy. To agree, tap ‘Save.’

It should go without saying that deleting data from Google Play Games servers probably won’t have any impact on data collected by the game developers and stored on their own servers, although it might take away the ability to track subsequent activity based on a player’s profile. These types of details have to be examined on a case-by-case basis and each game will have a different way of handling user data.

It’s certainly possible this change is coming in response to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect at the end of next month (May 25th). The timing makes sense, though it’s not clear if this is necessarily related or just a coincidence of timing. Also, I’m not an expert on the regulation, so I’m not sure if a single deletion feature and the small modifications to the fine print will bring Play Games policies entirely up to the standard.

Most of us probably aren’t interested in resetting all of our games or starting over at zero XP, so it’s good to know Google is going to make it easy to eliminate individual games from our profiles. Basically, we’ll get the option to undo that random dalliance with Candy Crush or hide the evidence that we “accidentally” tried an embarrassing game.

“Hub” Page

Also new in this update are a few new strings referring to a “Hub” page. Unfortunately, there are no other details at this point, so this is basically just a heads-up that there’s probably a new tab coming in a future update.

Hub
Games
Showing “Hub” page.

It’s actually a bit funny that one string actually has quotes around the word Hub, almost as though that name will be changing later.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Google Play Games
Google Play Games
Price: Free

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