Activision Patents Matchmaking System That Encourages Players To Buy Microtransactions

Companies mentioned: Activision Blizzard

Filed in 2015 and granted in October 2017, game publisher Activision has patented a method of matchmaking designed to manipulate players into spending more money on microtransactions.

Systems such as loot boxes already use various tricks to encourage players to drop cash, such as needless duplication of items or flooding the prize pool with undesirable items to reduce the likelihood of players getting the items they want, so it’s not surprising that game publishers would want to find more underhanded ways to get those wallets open.

This system would deliberately pair players with someone who had a premium item to show off, in the hope other players would see and then spend money on it themselves.

The system would also deliberately place players with a premium item into gameplay sessions in which that particular item is highly effective. “This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.” the text of the patent reads. This would also encourage other players in the same gameplay session who wish to achieve similar results to also buy the item.

The matchmaking system would analyze player trends such as latency and weapon preference in order to place them in scenarios that would lead them to be more inclined to buy certain items.

“For example, microtransaction engine 128 may identify a junior player to match with a marquee player based on a player profile of the junior player. 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. In this manner, the junior player may be encouraged to make game-related purchases such as a rifle or other item used by the highly skilled sniper.”

The microtransaction-focused matchmaking could even be used to influence match outcomes to ensure players who paid money felt satisfied with their purchase.

It is important to make clear, as a disclaimer, that although the patents have been filed by Activision, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all or indeed any of the features discussed have been implemented into their games. However, with very little in terms of transparency coming from Activision or its developers on the issue, and with monetary incentive to keep players in the dark about their implementation, the only option gamers are left with is to judge Activision’s intentions in filing such a patent in the first place.

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