Razer Naga gaming mouse requires always-on Internet connection, license agreement says they can use this to spy on you

Channelx99, a poster on the overclock.net forums, says that the Razer Naga gaming mouse comes with special drivers that require your computer to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to play -- and this means that the mouse was useless when it was first plugged in, because Razer's servers were down.

Parsing the Razer license agreement, Channelx99 finds that Razer reserves the right to spy on all your activity and to sell or data-mine that data. Multiple emails to Razer from Channelx99 have not created any clarity on this, as the company only sends back generic customer-service messages that don't explain whether the purpose of the drivers is really to spy on and monetize users.

Other commenters on the forum note that Razer's always-on drivers cause all sorts of performance issues with the mouse, making it slow and unresponsive during gaming sessions, and they say that earlier Razer products have had built-in memory that was used to store user preferences for the programmable buttons and functions.

Apparently, the Razer Naga will still work as a normal mouse -- without any of its crucial, scriptable extra buttons and functions -- if you don't install the driver, but of course, that's not how gamers expect to use their fancy programmable mice. And according to the forums, all Razer products will require always-on Internet connections and round-the-clock user surveillance in order to work.

Razer forces you to create an account with them before you can use the software with the mouse. You cant configure the mouse in any way until you make an account with them and activate your computer and account through their server. If they decide to take down their activation server for any reason, you will never be able to use the software. If you live somewhere without access to internet, you will not be able to activate and use the software. If you work somewhere that has a network behind firewalls, chances are even though you can download the Synapse software, the firewall may also block you from activating and using the software as well.

If your connection drops out for any reason, the Synapse software will make a habbit of locking up on you while it transitions to offline mode. During that time your settings may revert or possibly not be saved.

Yes, you can use the mouse as plug and play with basic functionality if you choose not to make an account and activate your computer, but who pays $80 for a basic plug and play mouse? The reason people buy the Naga 2012 is the configurable buttons and to change the DPI, polling rate, set up macros and profiles along with everything else. Razer has no right to lock this away from customers who paid for these features. For the Naga 2012 mouse, there is no other offline drivers to revert to. Synapse 2.0 is your only option.

Razers Synapse 2.0 software is always online. If you have an internet connection active, Razer will be constantly using it constantly downloading updates and interrupting your full screen applications. Not only that, as I suspected, the Synapse 2.0 software is spying on you

Razer Synapse 2.0 software/mouse unusable if you dont have an internet connection or their... (Thanks, JimDiGritz!)


  1. I just checked my Razor superthin mouse pad/surface and if fortunately does not require being online to work. :-)

    Anyway, so much for my ever buying a Razor product again (even if they back peddle on this).

        1. Razer peddles mice (or mouses, if you must).  But if they change their mind on something, they backpedal.  As in “walking backwards.”

          Although “backpeddling” wouldn’t be a bad word for giving refunds to unhappy customers who send back their crap mice.

          1.   Gah! Sorry, I wasn’t reading the original post properly, I had selling in mind. Apologies.

            Foot/mouth//egg/face, the works.

          2. Hey, egg/face sounds like a trendy new omelette!

            All you need now is for life to hand you some lemons and voila! Breakfast!

      1. Well, it also really tells you something about the company itself.

        Although not, apparently, as much as you now tell the company about yourself.

  2. It is worth pointing out that you are buying a plug-and-play USB mouse with lots of buttons, and an $80 programmable mouse driver that lets you assign macros to mouse buttons.

    1. It’s worth noting the mice also have pretty lights.

      I have a multi-button Razer mouse on my home computer, and I didn’t notice this bullshit. Maybe it’s an older model.

      1. It’s actually “mouses” for the computer hardware.  As with “hanged,” the irregularity of the word is not preserved when it’s used for a new purpose.

        1. How new a purpose is hanging?

          Anyway, the only people I deal with who refer to pointing devices in the plural are the fine folks at Fry’s Electronics, and their signage for that aisle reads “Mice.”  Then again, they irritate me a lot with their return policies.

          So… a plague on both your hice.

          1.  Actually, the correct useage helps clarify meaning:

            “He was hanged like a monster” vs “he was hung like a monster” and “there are a bunch of mouses in that desk drawer” vs “there are a bunch of mice in that desk drawer.”

          2. “mice” is not an incorrect usage. all of the on-line dictionaries i’ve checked say that both forms are correct, when used to describe computer pointing devices.

            and even if they didn’t, people in real life use “mice”. and actual usage trumps abstract rules. every single time.

          3. The former example is quite excellent, but I’m afraid the correct pluralization of “mouse” is “meeces”, as frequently demonstrated by Mr. Jinks.

          4. Now that’s assigning more sense and Intelligent Design to the English language than it has honestly earned.  One might as well argue that the computer pointing device we call a stylus uses a different plural than, say, the stick we used to write on clay tablets a few thousand years ago.  ‘Cause one wouldn’t want to go rifling through the drawers looking for shiny black plastic styluses when all we have in there are primitive wooden styli.

    2.  No, you’re buying an $80 piece of spyware, with a free mouse in the box. It used to be you bought a mouse that had non-volatile storage on it and stored the programming internally, AND a piece of software in order to configure all the logic in your mouse. But that costs more to make.

      This is unfortunately like the old hardware modem/software modem split, but with more evil.

      1. Much more evil. There is nothing particularly troubling about the idea of doing much of the heavy lifting for a USB HID device on the host side. The host has power to spare, loads of nonvolatile memory, knowledge of who is logged in, and what programs are running, so it can adjust parameters and macros on the fly based on user and use-case(plus, a UI sufficient to handle complex configuration is much easier to implement on a PC than it is on a mouse).

        However, absolutely none of that requires any sort of always-on internet spyware bullshit. It just requires a device driver, of the sort that have been not phoning home for about as long as computers have been complex enough for there to be an abstraction layer between hardware and programs.

        That’s what’s evil about this. Yes, for a luxury mouse, it is a little churlish not to throw in a whole dime worth of extra storage space; but not really something to get excited about. The fact that the accompanying device driver sounds like it was designed my MPAA consultants is an issue.

        1. I think it’s designed so that you can store your mouse settings in the cloud, so that if you happened to game at multiple locations, with multiple mouses, your settings would be automatically customized. Sort of akin to browsing on computers, tablets, phones, and having your tabs follow you around.

          1. My Logitech mouse does that without contacting “the cloud” perfectly fine. What’s more I don’t need to install silly software to download the settings I have, only if I want to program them in – and once programmed the macros work on any OS that the mouse works on.

            Razer’s methods are a step backwards in both functionality and privacy. Yuck.

    3. Back when I was still using Linux–i.e. before OSX came out, it was my usual practice to buy “intelligent devices”. My modem was a device that responded to the AT command set. My printer was a postscript  printer, etc. 

      It’s very difficult to”pirate” an ISA Modem, or a postscript printer. “The drivers” consisted of scripts or config files which could, and were passed around like candy– but so what? We wrote them. All the IP of real consequence was locked up in hardware, which through the magic of retail generated substantial profits for whoever manufactured the device.

      Why can’t this mouse be a piece of versatile hardware, valued for being a piece of hardware, instead of some unholy marriage of mediocre hardware with proprietary drivers that make up for the mouse’s faults?

      1. Cheaper to manufacture than a fancier piece of electronics, easier to update the software if it’s soft not firm, and of course it’s hard to explain why your hardware-mouse needs always on internet…

  3. There are some advantages to being left-handed, I guess: you don’t purchase these non-ambidextrous mouses.

    In case anyone’s not clear:  From Razer’s site, Requirements:    
    Internet connection (for driver installation)   
    Razer Synapse 2.0 account registration (requiring a valid e-mail address), software download,
    license agreement acceptance, and internet connection is required to use full feature set
    of product and to receive updates.

    1. In order to find that information, you need to go to the Razer Naga page on their website, click on the Technical Specs tab, then scroll down to the bottom while reading their eye bleed-inducing font. They will quite happily let you order and pay for one without ever subjecting you to the inconvenience of being subjected to these potentially important details.

  4. Fail++ Razer!

    This is not a mouse/pointing device.

    It is really a tracking/spyware device with some “mouse-like” functionality.

    The fact that they can bury you in the legalese of the license agreement and acquire your unwitting approval to be “spied upon” is my real beef.

    As no sane person reads a license agreement before clicking through, they can drop this wonderful little bit of spyware on your system with the excuse that you signed off on the little turd.

    It takes a profound level of contempt to hide behind a license agreement that people simply click thru.

  5. there’s drm on most games. valve will disable the multiplayer on your steam games permanently if you’re caught cheating. you need to let someone root your box to use a fucking mouse (i assume that the drivers are in kernel space and thus could, conceivably, do nearly anything without even trying).

    man, gamers are the most feeble consumer group that’s ever existed. of course this is largely because so many of them are below the age of majority and spending their parents’ disposable (or not so disposable) income. it’s kind of insidious from that perspective.

    1. I do understand the urge for DRM in software products, but this?

      What are they worried about?
      3d printers from the future?

      This is BS on a whole different level…

      1. they’re worried about not making as much money as possible in the short-run while driving their brand into the ground. same as usual.

        1. Yes, well, actually i have to think about this, but i’m curious.

          How do they justify this?

          The software vendor says “I am DRM-ing your game so you can’t steal it”, and frankly has a point.
          What does Razer say instead?

          1. It’s not about theft.  It’s about their business model.  Making money selling you the mouse is only the first part.

            Then they monetize your information.  The license grants them the complete and irrevocable right to use, reproduce and redistribute your information.

            That could be usage information – what games and what settings you use.  But the licence is vague enough to include ANYTHING it finds or watches on your computer.

            It’s vague about what data they’ll collect, yet very specific about granting themselves full rights to it.

          2. I get that the only purpose they have was to sell user information.

            What is less clear to me is how they justify that to the user that is being data-mugged.

            Maybe is just an user intelligence test.

      2. Yeah, I’m only gonna get this when it gets cracked. The I’ll just download the whole mouse on mah torrentz.

    2. Valve can only do that for multiplayer games that explicitly use their anti-cheating software in the exact same way that other anti-cheating software like Punkbuster and Sentinel can only ban you from the games using them. Valve can’t just ban you from any game that happens to be on Steam.

      edit: Also only Valve games serve up blanket bans that prevent you from playing multiplayer on any Valve game. Others just ban you on a per-game basis.

      1. okay, so it applies to fewer games. still doesn’t change the substance of it. this shit just wouldn’t fly anywhere except in the mainstream gaming “community.”

    3. man, gamers are the most feeble consumer group that’s ever existed. of course this is largely because so many of them are below the age of majority and spending their parents’ disposable (or not so disposable) income. it’s kind of insidious from that perspective.

      Agreed.  I once was stuck reading a gamer magazine at an office and (along with all the ads trying to get them to join the military) came across this Old Spice ad basically telling the kids they shouldn’t like themselves for who they are.  wtf…

    4. “man, gamers are the most feeble consumer group that’s ever existed”

      Second only to drug addicts!

      1. oh. well in that case, they have no excuse. i guess gamers really are just naive consumer addict man-children with no backbone at all. other industries would kill for a market as passive and abusable as mainstream gamers.

        however, you may be wrong. that statistic is the average age of a game _purchaser_. it’s hard to get reliable statistics on how many minors are gaming. also: that statistic is from the entertainment software association, which has an interest in making gaming seem like a grownup hobby.

  6. What’s the point? Why are these folks connecting the mouse to the Internet? I really don’t understand the logic behind this. 

    1. There was concern in the company that if they made a good product, it might generate more sales than they could handle. Fortunately, they found a workaround for this. By essentially repositioning the product as an expensive spyware device, they ensured that sales would remain at a level consistent with their production capacity, say 1-2 units/year.

  7. So, pretty much hope my old Naga never dies.   Or sell it to people that want an old gen Naga…. hrm.

  8. I’ll stick to my good ‘ol Logitech G5. This is all you need in a gaming mouse. Weight/balance adjustable, sensitivity adjustable in hardware, 3 main buttons, and a wheel that acts as 3 more buttons (you can click it down or tilt it side to side) No bullshit drivers needed, though you can install the SetPoint software for more features (I never bother, this mouse is great with windows drivers)

    I’ve been an FPS gamer since before mouselook was commonplace, and this is by far the best mouse I’ve ever used. It’s very comfortable too, Logitech is good like that. 

    Btw Cory, here‘s the same image as at the top of the article… but nicer.

  9. I’ve been off Razer products since my first purchase around 2000. I bought the Boomslang 2000DPI which was, in many ways, a terrific piece of hardware for the time; but Razer engaged in numerous deceptive practices when they came out with this:

    1) The packaging indicated that the mouse came with an FPS game called “Soldier of Fortune”, in fact it came with a CD version of the free demo.

    2) They stated a “lifetime warranty” for service and repair. But they soon had a financial restructure and ceased software updates for new versions of Windows and refused to replace the device when it broken.

    Fuck Razer.

    1.  i think i see what you did there.
      I agree entirely,

      no real requirement dfor software (the DPI adjustments run in hardware via a hat switch – and if you need more then 2 buttons and a wheel to play a game, the UI is poorley designed.)

  10. I’ve been looking to upgrade my mouse. This is one that I WON’T be getting. Not only due to the data mining aspects, but the fact that I use a mobility ISP which charges me by the amount of data I use. Using this mouse would slowly rack up additional charges as the data flows back and forth between the mouse and their servers.

  11. I just my new (refurbished) Razer Naga mouse in the mail from woot.com this week. I was so excited to plug it in and try it out, but sadly, there was no glow at the bottom and it completely failed to move the cursor even after replugging it many times. Now, after reading this, I’m a little glad it’s DOA, because I just want my money back. My last high-dpi razer mouse died on my too, and I’m just not happy with such defects and this driver non-sense to put up with their shenanigans any more.

    1. The mouse was dead AFTER the drivers were installed, or before?

      I have no experience with Razers, but some Microsoft mice I’ve had the misfortune of using wouldn’t even power up if the driver wasn’t installed.  That’s pretty bad.  Most mice will at least start up in simple 2-button mode without any drivers, but MS mice will not even talk at all – to MS Windows! – without a bloated, flaky driver which I have occasionally had to reinstall.

      I just use generic hardware whenever possible, to avoid the custom, bloated drivers and non-standard interfaces that the big names like to foist on their users.

      To think, I even considered a Razer during my last mouse quest.

  12. I’ve been using the Razr Naga for a few months now. As a piece of hardware, it’s great. But… when I actually wanted to configure the buttons, and noticed the requirement to log in to their server… I aborted, uninstalled the driver, and after some research, found another solution.

    All you need to do is download the OLD Naga driver. Google it, it’s Razer_NagaEpic_Driver_v3.01.exe. It is a very nice configurator for the mouse, and now my Naga works just the way I like it, with no internet connection required. Yeah, this means Razr had a perfectly functional driver at one time, then deliberately crippled it and added spyware.

    I admit I was dumbfounded at the time (and still am) that a hardware company would alienate it’s customer base this way. Really disgusting practice on their part.

  13. Well scratch Razer from my list of companies I’ll purchase hardware from in the future. Was sorta in the market for a new keyboard & gamepad too.

  14. I have a Razer Lycosa keyboard and an Imperator mouse. I’ve never run into ANY situation in which they do not work just fine offline. The issue must be related only to the Naga. But even if not, I couldn’t care less what kind of info Razer is collecting. How many times I click my left button and right button a day? How many times I use the scroll wheel? They’re welcome to that info if that’s what they want.

      1. Heck, a COMPUTER should not require an internet connection. Access to the internet should exist solely as a convenience to the user. 

        1. I like to be able to have things work without the internet too. But that’s because my connection hiccups every couple of months or so, and I don’t have a dataplan for my ipad. But other than that, the internet is on by default, and I like it that way, I suppose what I really need the most is access to my home network, but it’s too  much of a hassle to constantly toggle on and off access tp the internet.

          I have both a e-ink kindle and an ipad kindle app. Whichever one I use depends on lighting conditions. If I have to go through hassles to exchange bookmark data, it’s a lot less convenient to switch between the devices.

  15. Things are simple:
    _ You can use you all your mouse functionalities and, as a bonus, you have the possibility of storing information (configs, macros, etc.) on the cloud : very good!
    _ You cannot use all your mouse functionalities unless you’re registered and/or you’re online : complete, total, massive bullshit. 
    (For the record, I have a DeathAdder and I’m very happy about it, though I don’t use the drivers anymore and I’ve never really used the settings stuff) (I also have a Razer Onza which was broken when I bought it, but it seems Razer won’t help me because the shop where I’ve bought it is supposed to take care of it… and the shop is closed after bankrupcy :sigh: I’ve told them twice, same answer each time, great :( )

  16. Razer respond saying that there is no spyware and that Synapse driver has an offline mode, point to very recent CEO statement: https://www.facebook.com/minliangtan/posts/441476059243515

    1. “Finally, as far as the Synapse 2.0 activation server goes, we realize that we have had intermittent issues with it due to server usage spikes and, most recently, because of Hurricane Sandy – not uncommon challenges with server-based functions, especially given the severity of the storm – and we’re working on increasing server reliability. ”

      _ Shit, my new Razer mouse is not working like I expected :(
      _ Why ?
      _ Oh, there was a storm at the other side of the word, that’s why.
      _ Ah OK.


  17. It’s been seven and a half hours since this was posted. Why hasn’t anyone reverse engineered this piece of crap and distributed a patch to use it without spyware yet?

  18. Way to burn your customer base Razer, was there no one in marketing who thought this was a bad idea? What kind of clowns get business degrees these days anyway?

  19. Hmmm. The cloud sucks. No change there. Their DeathAdder rev 1 is tits the one that is like 1600DPI not 16,000,000. It’s like contrast ratio numbers. Who the fuck cares after 800? Not sure about the rest of their stuff. Too green flashy for me. They should make a point to scrub the data mining portion if that is in their EULA. I get the technical reasons for their (overly) ambitious goal. I mean, yes, the cloud would be the easiest. But not the best for us. Choose accordingly. Don’t buy it. Maybe they make it different based on it’s complete failure. Lesson them up. 

    1. The whole “gaming mice” thing has never made sense to me. I can see some point to extra buttons or adjusting the weight and shape of the mouse. The shift in responsiveness between a mechanical ball mouse and a laser mouse was certainly noticeable. But I have a hard time believing that the claimed differences in performance between gaming mice and basic laser mice is perceptible, and even if it is, I doubt it’s worth the difference in price.

  20. I’ve been using this mouse for over a year now and many times offline. I don’t use the scripting functions though, I do use the extra 12 side buttons though and they work fine offline for me. 

    1. Yes, there apparently is a new “2012” version. From the sounds of it though, that’s just a change in the bundled driver.

      1.  I got my Naga a few months ago and never had to log in or anything for it– but I configured the buttons just through my game options. Never needed all those buttons outside of a game. Still kinda creepy but not so bad after realizing that I hadn’t simply forgotten that I made an account….. If I ever have to I’ll just get the old one.

  21. Not that they’ll do this, but I can see how masses of user data tracked and analysed could provide better mouse designs in the future. Like telemetry in racing cars.

    1. People would be okay with doing that, if it was *voluntary*.

      That’s the issue Razer hasn’t figured out – how to not treat their customers with contempt, all under the guise of “we might lose a sale!” as a bogus excuse.

  22. I own this mouse, works fine, just like the original naga i used to own (killed it with a beer spillage, oops)
    Can’t say i’ve really noticed any of the problems described.

    must call out some things on this article though:
    “Razer Naga gaming mouse comes with special drivers that require your computer to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to play — and this means that the mouse was useless when it was first plugged in”
    The mouse works just fine without the special driver, just like the old naga.
    All hardware buttons functional (side buttons replicate the 1 to = keys, or the numpad of the keyboard, selectable by a hardware switch underneath the mouse) the driver is only required if you want scripting or to remap the keys to something different, or change DPI

    I’ve also never noticed the mouse “to stop working” when the internet goes out (have a sometimes unstable internet connection). seems to function just like steam: internet connection needed to install, but will work offline afterwards.

    Whilst i agree they should tune down the online required part, this article seems to be overblowing the issue.

    Also worth noting that this is advertised as a MMO gaming mouse… I’m quite certain that there is not any MMO gamers without an internet connection ;)

  23. It’s also filled with 8oz of C4. If you click on a pirate link the MPAA/RIAA are alerted, and detonation codes sent to your mouse. BLAM! See how you download movie and music with no hand!

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