Published: Thu, October 19, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Activision patents matchmaking system created to push microtransactions

Activision patents matchmaking system created to push microtransactions

But even if it never puts this patented tech to use (as is the case with many game industry patents), the way Activision's system works to entice players into paying for digital power-ups is intriguing - especially since the game industry is now roiling with concerns over how big-budget games can effectively (and ethically) be monetized with microtransaction opportunities like, say, loot boxes. "If they do not, the player's profile is "[updated to] indicate non-purchase". One example given is how a player who has expressed interest in sniping might be matched up against high-skilled snipers in the game to encourage them to buy an in-game sniper rifle, or other items used by the same player. As with every patent to be awarded in the United States, the listing on the USPTO website goes into great detail about how this would be accomplished, giving us an opportunity to hear the scenarios Activision had in mind.

Usually, when playing online matches, a system is used to select players to play together.

But although the patent is described as "exploratory", many players feel that it's only a matter of time until the technology becomes a standard in Activision's games. Still, Activision denies that it has implemented this feature in any of its games.

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The patent outlines a fairly basic matchmaking system, matching players in multiplayer matches based on their internet latency, skill level and other factors. Activision has been granted a patent for a system for encouraging in-game purchases that sound positively game-breaking.

Although Activision has stated that this is a system that hasn't been implemented in any of its current games, many worry whether it will be put into future games. Recently there have been worries about loot boxes in games, and the models that might attempt to manipulate users into purchasing them.

It's also important to note that while the patent uses a first-person shooter game for its examples, the system can be applied to other genres as well.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was the first game in the franchise to house microtransactions, but starting in 2014 with Advanced Warfare, Activision introduced the Supply Drop system which gives random content (including Supply Drop-exclusive weapons) in exchange for in-game currency that can also be bought by real-world money.

Kotaku has reached out to Activision for further information.

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