Analytics and tracking are everyone's business
In recent years, many companies have expanded their reach into almost every aspect of our lives, and this also applies to the world of video games. With the introduction of game analytics, developers can now gather detailed information about the gaming behavior of their users, such as the time it takes for certain actions, the success rate for certain challenges and the preferred ways of playing. This data can be used to improve the gaming experience, but also for targeted advertising or even to manipulate gaming behavior.
However, not only companies are interested in this data, government agencies such as the NSA have also shown interest in it. In 2013, it was revealed by the Snowden Leaks that the NSA oversaw Blizzard Entertainment's gaming platforms, including World of Warcraft. Chat logs and other user data were recorded. Similar allegations have also been made against other gaming platforms such as Xbox Live and Playstation Network.
This controversy shows how easy it is for government agencies to gain access to user data collected by technology companies. The use of game analytics has also raised privacy concerns, as many users may not be aware of what data is being collected about them and how it is being used. However, there are also positive aspects of game analytics as they can help developers develop better games and gain a better understanding of their users.
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Overall, there are a wide range of companies operating in this space, including industry giants such as Google, LLC with Google Stadia, Amazon.com, Inc. with Twitch and Facebook, Inc. with Oculus. These corporations have access to immense amounts of data and are increasingly relying on data-driven decisions. The development of game analytics and the monitoring of user data are therefore part of a larger trend towards more and more data collection and processing by technology companies.
Unity Technologies also knows this and publishes various statistics in its annual report. Thus, the number of ingame purchases increases, more advertising is accepted and especially indie developers are the focus of monetization.
Many modern games, for example, require a constant online connection to function, which allows developers to gather detailed information about the behavior of players. Account links are often also required to use certain functions, such as storing scores in the cloud.
This forced data collection and monitoring can mean a loss of privacy and even property. Companies such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft have received criticism in the past for their extensive data collection and sharing.
It is important that players are aware of the risks and carefully read companies "privacy policies before giving their consent to data collection. It is also important that regulators take steps to ensure that companies handle their customers "data responsibly and respect users" privacy and property rights.