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Amazon patents method of grouping toxic players together online

Patent filing suggests gamers would be able to specify preferences for the behaviours they would accept

Amazon has devised a potential solution to toxic players spoiling multiplayer games for others -- by making them only play against each other.

A new patent filing, spotted by Protocol, details Amazon Technologies' proposal for a system that allows "behaviour-aware player selection for multiplayer electronic games."

The filing was originally made in December 2017 but seems to have been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office last month.

The patent filing notes that traditional matchmaking systems often focus on grouping players based on skill level, but suggests there are other considerations to take into account.

"While players may enjoy competing with others of a similar skill level, such systems naively assume that skill is the primary or only factor to players' enjoyment," it reads.

"Contrary to this assumption, players' enjoyment may depend heavily based on behaviours of other users with which they are paired, such as the proclivity of other players to use profanity or engage in other undesirable behaviours.

"Players who engage in such behaviours may be labelled as 'toxic' by other players. One mechanism for dealing with such players is to isolate all 'toxic' players into a separate player pool, such that one toxic player is paired only with other toxic players."

The filing acknowledges that it is difficult to come up with a clear definition of 'toxic,' and that classifying players as only 'toxic' or 'non-toxic' ignores other important differences in player preferences.

For example, some players may be comfortable with bad language but consider quitting prematurely as 'toxic,' while others may be comfortable with opponents quitting but view the profanity as 'toxic.'

The filing suggests allowing players to select preferences for what they do and do not find acceptable, and then grouping players together based on these affinities.

Whether or not Amazon will be able to implement it remains to be seen. The company announced it was shutting down its first major online game Crucible just five months after it launched.

Amazon is currently working with Athlon Games, a publishing label of China-based Leyou Technologies, on a Lord of the Rings MMO.

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was