Large publishers and developers like Epic, EA, and Activision explicitly state they capture user data in their license agreements and there is a new industry of firms selling middleware "data analytics" tools, often used by game developers.
These data analytics tools promise to make users more amenable to continued consumption using data analysis at scale.
According to Wired analytics, once available only to the largest video game studios -- which could hire data scientists to
Tools available include outsourced quality assurance testing, which provides data-driven insight into the results. Another supposedly uses AI to understand the player value, identifying big spenders, and maximize retention.
Developers might use data from these middleware companies to further refine their game (players might be getting overly frustrated and dying at a particular point, indicating the game might be too difficult) or their monetization strategies (prompting in-app purchases -- such as extra lives -- at such a point of difficulty).
Increasingly, video game companies exploit this data to capitalize user attention through targeted advertisements. As a 2019 eMarketer report suggests, the value of video games as a medium for advertising is not just in access to large-scale audience data (such as the Unity ad network's claim to billions of users), but through ad formats such as playable and rewarded advertisements -- that is, access to audiences more likely to pay attention to an ad.