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Sony files patent which encourages stuck players to spend money on DLC

Machine learning system also uses contextual data to help players overcome challenges using in-game resources

A recently filed patent from Sony uses machine learning to help players overcome in-game challenges by directing them towards digital storefronts.

Filed through the World Intellectual Property Organization, the "in-game resource surfacing platform" operates by assessing the current in-game state and then making suggestions accordingly.

It will search for and identify in-game resources based on contextual player data, and additional data from the game's community; from there, it will make suggestions for how the player can progress.

Some of these recommendations will point players towards digital storefronts where they can spend money on DLC or microtransactions.

The system also suggests in-game resources, identifying data from other players' successful attempts and presenting relevant solutions.

In the filing, Sony suggested this patent was a response to the growing number of games, and the increased competition to hold a player's attention; it said that appropriate guidance to help players progress in-game has "not kept pace" with this increase.

"There is thus a need and a benefit to develop and integrate an in-game platform to match players with those resources... both within the game in question as well as across a plurality of additional games the player participates in," reads the filing.

"There is moreover, a need and benefit for game publishers and virtual store platforms to be able to identify specific in-game resources that would complement the player in their gameplay and communicate the same to them."

This is not the first patent from a major game company which uses artificial intelligence to drive in-game in an unusual way.

In 2017, Activision Blizzard was granted a patent that uses multiplayer matchmaking as a kind of covert marketing tool to push in-game items.

It is among a list of patents researchers at the University of Adelaide highlighted in a recent study on the industry's monetisation practices.

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