Patent that pushes microtransactions through multiplayer granted to Activision

The "exploratory" systems have not been implemented into any games as of yet, publisher says

Activision has successfully patented a system designed to encourage microtransaction spending through multiplayer matchmaking.

The technology is geared towards matching players together in such a way that influences game related purchases, recreates experiences, or pushes specific items based on a player's profile.

As first reported by Glixel, the patent was filed in 2015 but only recently granted. According to Activision, it is not currently active in any games. A community manager at Bungie also confirmed over Twitter that the systems have not been implemented in Destiny 2.

A spokesperson told Glixel: "This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by an R&D team working independently from our game studios. It has not been implemented in-game."

There are a number of methods the systems could potentially use in order to sell in-game items to players through careful matchmaking.

"For instance, the microtransaction engine may match a more expert/marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game-related purchases of items possessed/used by the marquee player," according to the patent. "A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player."

Players' profiles could also be used to identify them as soft targets for these systems.

The patent reads: "In a particular example, the junior player may wish to become an expert sniper in a game (e.g., as determined from the player profile). The microtransaction engine 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 marquee player. "

According to the patent, the system could also match players into games that will make use of a recently purchased item, therefore enhancing the their enjoyment.

"For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase," according to the patent. "This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results."

Additionally, while the patent focuses entirely on first-person-shooters, it is made clear that such systems could be implemented across different genres.

This news simply adds to the recent maelstrom of controversy surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions, with Star Wars: Battlefront II, Forza Motorsport 7, and Mordor: Shadow of War bearing most of the brunt until now.

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Latest comments (1)

Luke Parkes Senior Technical Designer, Deep Silver4 years ago
This is pretty insidious, you're essentially throwing out game balance in favour of pushing a monetisation system. Hearthstone players have been complaining about this for a couple of years, though have never been able to quantify their suspicions (other suspicions such as the use of unsavoury psychological conditioning in the reward system were confirmed to be true after statistical analysis) ; but this patent sheds some uncomfortable light on those suspicions regardless of whether Activision admits to them being in use.

""For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective"

The opposite is also true - if some players are given an advantage, it means other players must be at a disadvantage.
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