Activision granted matchmaking patent that encourages players to buy more microtransactions

Gladys Abbott
October 20, 2017

A system patented by Activision could use a player's matchmaking experience to help drive microtransactions, Rolling Stone's Glixel reports.

However, the patented technology (the "system and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games") puts an emphasis on pairing up players of disparate levels, so those of lower level will be more tempted to even things by shelling out cash for items. In this manner, microtransaction engine 128 may leverage the matchmaking abilities described herein to influence purchase decisions for game-related purchases. "This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results". In a particular example, the junior player may wish to become an expert sniper in a game.Microtransaction engine 128 may match the junior player with a player that is a highly skilled sniper in the game.

Activision's proposed, patented method is essentially a manipulation tactic: Players would be blindly thrown into unbalanced teams for the objective of tacitly promoting sales of additional content. By matching players with purchased items against non-paying players, the assumption is that both players will have incentive to spend money upgrading their characters' abilities and weapons.

While there are reasons to worry about Activision's patent and what it could portend for the near future of paid, in-game content, it's also important to keep in mind that a patent is just that: a patent.

Activision is the publisher behind many big games including the Call of Duty series and the Destiny franchise.

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The patent goes on to note that the same information could be used to identify which sorts of in-game purchasable items should be promoted. Middle-earth: Shadow of War's credits don't roll until players reach the so-called "bonus ending", which can takes hours upon hours of grinding. or the purchase of an experience boost that chops that time in half.

No one has ever liked microtransactions, but there are right ways and wrong ways to handle them. That's where players are fed up.

The system can also drop players into matches that will make use of an in-game-related purchase, according to the patent. As the current console generation marches on, more and more microtransactions are appearing in triple-A games, usually in the form of loot boxes. Importantly, the patent does not say if this system is actually used in any of Activision or Blizzard games.

An Activision representative told Glixel (which first unearthed the patent) that the filing was merely an "exploratory" effort from a disconnected R&D team and that such a system "has not been implemented in-game" yet. It has not been implemented in-game.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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