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Additional details on Activision’s new matchmaking patent

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Earlier today, we reported the details about Activision’s new matchmaking ways to encourage players to buy more microtransactions. The patent that Activision was granted this month, which the company filed in 2015, talks about how Activision thinks they can use matchmaking to encourage the matchmaking system to be more evolved in the game’s systems.

The first new change Activision is considering is creating a game score for potential matches. Activision has a new scoring engine 122 which can create scores for how players felt during a match based on many variables. “In other words, a match score may indicate a predicted level of satisfaction of players that are placed in a potential match.” 

Activision defines the variables that a score can be generated on by the following criteria. They use this criteria to generate a match score for how a player felt after a match.

  • Latency between players (e.g., a delay time for data communication between players’ gaming systems or platforms such that lower latency is preferentially matched)
  • A player skill level
  • Ateam composition (e.g., a role played by each player of a potential match)
  • A presence or absence of preferred players (e.g., clan members, friends, etc.)
  • A time that a player has waited to be matched (e.g., a player having a longer wait time may be preferentially matched)
  • A location of a player (e.g., players geographically close to one another may be preferentially matched.

The patent states that the matchmaking system could then assign a general coefficient to each of the variables depending on the importance of each. It claims that a game designer can pick which of the variables should be the most important for the game.

Here’s an example:

“The coefficient may be expressed as a multiplier, a percentage, and/or other value that can be used to weight a match variable relative to one or more other match variables. The coefficient may be set to zero (or an equivalent metric) such that the given match variable is not considered when generating a match score. For example, if the latency variable is assigned with a coefficient of zero (or other value that indicates that latency should not be used), scoring engine 122 may ignore the latency variable when generating a match score. In this manner, a game designer or others may determine which match variables will be used to generate match scores and/or weights for the match variables. Alternatively or additionally, the game designer or others may remove match variables from consideration altogether (and/or add new match variables).” 

The patent says that a game designer can change the coefficient assignments that are prioritized. “A game designer or match administrator (e.g., a computerized or human game session moderator), for example, may tune one or more coefficients based on what the game designer or match administrator believes are more important match variables.”

The new scoring engine can be adapted to changing conditions based on the game designer’s intentions, but also adapt directly in game based upon conditions. For example, if a player is placed into a set of matches which they perform poorly, the system can alter the matchmaking so that you can match you with lower skilled players. “If a player has been getting killed at a rate higher than the player’s historical rate, scoring engine 122 may dynamically tune a coefficient associated with a match variable related to skill level to match him with easier opponents, higher-skilled collaborative team members, game sessions that are more suited to the player’s gameplay style (e.g., a map that favors snipers), and/or other coefficients that can affect the outcome of a match score.” 

There is also a potential scenario where the score engine 122 can change which servers are being used depending on the cost of the network of the server being used. This engine is supposed to be very adaptive to how the system and game evolves over time, and be changing to the game designer’s requests and player’s stat changes.

Another instance of this system is reducing wait times. While there are a lot of different variables, as we detailed above, the score engine 122 can also remove the variables and just put a player in a match that can be found if they have waited for an extensive period of time. The match will be lower quality for the player, but the player will be in a match instead of a prolonged wait time.

“For example, scoring engine 122 may lower the threshold match score (assuming higher match scores are associated with higher match quality) when a given player has been waiting to be matched for a predetermined period of time. In some instances, the system may progressively lower the threshold match score as the player continues to wait to be matched until the player is eventually matched. In this manner, the system may allow a player to be matched using lower quality matches if the player has been waiting to be matched.” 

The patent also details how Activision can use the scoring engine 122 to deliver to the players information on how they are being matched for a specific game. “For example, an exemplary match description may include the following: likely two other clan members included in a gameplay session, 100 millisecond average latency, five-versus-five gameplay, average “good” skill level, spread of skill level, map, player styles, and/or other information.”

This new system can also generate a quality score after each map. The quality score can be dependent upon how long the player stayed in the match, player stats in the match, how often players may have died, and more. The quality score tells the system what the next match should be. Beyond this, the engine can find out business decisions on each match; how much revenue was generated after a match completed and why numbers would be lower than expected.

The engine is also working to create player specific profiles, where it can learn how each match went and how the game can be tuned to ensure a better experience. It generates a player profile, and how to determine a profile of the player:

“For example, player information may include, without limitation, a style of gameplay (e.g., aggressive), a role preference (e.g., an explicit indication by the player of such preference), a role actually played, a duration of gameplay sessions, a number of gameplay sessions played in a given login session, in-game items used or purchased by the player, membership in a clan or team, preference to play with clan mates or friends, demographic information of the player (e.g., geographic location, gender, income level, etc.), win/loss records, scores, and/or other information that may be used to determine whether a player will enjoy a given gameplay session, a match, and/or a game.”

The next part of the patent talks about how Activision can use the profile created to then apply it to the game.

Here’s one implementation in-game:

“In an implementation, using subsets of the player profile information, analytics and feedback engine 124 may tune matchmaking in real-time for a given player. For example, if a player is determined to be on a losing streak within the past several gaming sessions, analytics and feedback engine 124 may cause a coefficient related to player skill level to become more important. This may result in, for example, the player being pitted against lower-skilled opponents and/or teamed with higher-skilled players to increase the chance that the player will win or otherwise perform better.”

There’s another engine being developed into this system called Pipelining Engine 126. This can create a soft reservation for players that can help tune how they play the game. This engine can analyze player progression and then predict a certain game mode to help the player advance forward. It can also predict when your friends come online and set up a soft reservation for their players. It can actually create a system that lets players who want to play with friends that are already in a game to be matched and set up for another game.

“In an implementation, pipelining engine 126 may continuously place players who are currently logged on and/or playing in a gameplay session into potential matches, assess the potential matches as described herein, and make soft reservations for potential matches having match scores that exceed a match threshold score. For example, pipelining engine 126 may match a player who is already playing in a current gameplay session so that the player may join a subsequent gameplay session when the current gameplay session ends (e.g., the player completes the gameplay session and then joins the future gameplay session) or is otherwise exited by the player (e.g., the player quits the current gameplay session early to join the subsequent gameplay session). In this manner, a player may be pre-matched with other players for a subsequent gameplay session while the player is still playing in a current gameplay session.”

There is also a way to schedule gameplay sessions in a way to reduce wait times. A first player can actually continue to play a different match while a soft reservation is being used to mark their two friends to possibly play together in a future match. It will determine the time required.

“If the two friends of the first player are currently playing in a gameplay session, which has not yet completed, pipelining engine 126 may make a soft reservation for the three players to play together in a future gameplay session. 

In the meantime, the first player can continue to wait until the two friends are available or may join a gameplay session that pipelining engine 126 determines will likely finish at approximately the same time that the two friends’ gameplay session is expected to finish. For example, pipelining engine 126 may determine that the two friends will complete their gameplay session in ten minutes and may match the first player into a gameplay session that is expected to be complete in ten minutes. In this manner, all three friends may be expected to become available at around the same time.”

All of this is working together with the matchmaking system to create a gaming experience for fans in future games. As we detailed in our earlier post from today, this system can be bonded with the microtransaction system to influence games based upon revenue and business decisions, alongside player feelings and stats in each game.

Again, Activision has not said which games will utilize or do use this system.

Bungie’s CM has shared on Twitter that this system is not in Destiny, but did not specify what could happen in the future.

SOURCE: US Patent Office 

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Activision

Activision files cease and desist letter against another cheat manufacturer

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Activision Blizzard continues to take down cheat manufacturer sites to stop the spread of different cheats for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone.

In August, the company filed a lawsuit against CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to be used in an IP owned by Activision Blizzard. CXCheats since deleted all cheats for Modern Warfare and Warzone in compliance with the lawsuit.

Now, in September, another large cheat manufacturer, GatorCheats, has said that Activision Blizzard has filed a cease and desist letter to stop them from making cheats for Call of Duty games.

The owner of GatorCheats said in their Discord that the first letter was filed by in May 2020, but they did not fully comply with that – opting to allow cheats to continue to be available.

In May 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys contacted me via a Cease and Desist letter. Considering this event, I decided to act on my already pending decision to close all sales to new customers for my product relating to Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has since escalated the requests. In Sept. 2020, the owner of GatorCheats claims that Activision Blizzard served another cease and desist letter. But, this time, a PI showed up at his residence with the letter and informed him of what Activision knows about their site and the owners behind it.

In September 2020, Activision Blizzard’s attorneys had another Cease and Desist letter hand delivered to me by who I assume was a PI, considering he knew my family members by name and made a point to showcase that he did. Also in September 2020, I received very clear communication in a follow up from Activision Blizzard’s attorneys communicating that they would litigate (file a law suit against me) if I didn’t comply with continuation of stopped sales as well as a complete stoppage of interaction with and updating of any products related to their client’s products.

The full letter from the owner states that he will “never make or create” a cheat for an Activision Blizzard product again after receiving the letters and a visit from them at his house.

Activision has not commented on their anti-cheat initiatives since June, where the company said they continue to ban players on a regular basis.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Activision files lawsuit against cheat manufacturer

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Activision filed a lawsuit to sue a company responsible for creating hacks and exploits for Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Activision has sued CXCheats for illegally creating cheats to use in Call of Duty, the company announced.

CXCheats claims on their website that they are “dedicated to quality.”

This is a pathetic marketing line to convince users to buy cheats to use in Call of Duty.

The owner announced on Discord (message posted to Reddit) that they are removing Warzone cheats from their site.

Announcement Message

As some of you may know, Activision Publishing, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against CXCheats and has made it clear to us that our services violate their Terms of Use.

As a result of our lawsuit with Activision, we have agreed to cease development and support for all Call of Duty related products or services sold through the site. These products will not be returning to CXCheats in any form. You also should be aware that using third-party tools in Call of Duty may result in the suspension or banning of your account by Activision Publishing, Inc. or the game’s developers. We apologize for any pain we’ve caused to players of Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Warzone has been experiencing an intense amount of hackers since the game’s launch on March 13 on the PC platform.

With cross play, the hacks impacted the console players as well. PS4 players have opted to disable cross play to avoid them. Xbox players currently cannot disable cross play for unknown reasons.

CXCheats said on Discord that any user found using their software in Warzone will be banned, permanently.

Any user who utilizes unauthorized third-party software to gain an unfair advantage, manipulate stats, and/or manipulate game data is subject to penalty. Unauthorized third-party software includes, but is not limited to, aimbots, wallhacks, trainers, stats hacks, texture hacks, leaderboard hacks, injectors, or any other software used to deliberately modify game data on disk or in memory.

As of now, Activision has not commented on the lawsuit.

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Activision

Former MLB executive joins Activision Blizzard to lead Sports & Entertainment

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Activision Blizzard announced this week that former MLB executive will be joining the company starting August 17 in a newly formed position of President of Sports & Entertainment.

Petitti was the Deputy Commissioner and COO of MLB for years.

“Tony is one of the most highly regarded executives in sports and entertainment,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “His success in media and as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball is the perfect blend of skills to help us realize our aspirations for esports and our related businesses. He is admired by owners, media executives, players and fans.”

“Bobby Kotick has been translating his vision into opportunity at Activision Blizzard for 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited to use my own 30 years of sports and entertainment experience to help Activision Blizzard realize its ambitions,” said Petitti. “It’s clear to me the company has an incredible opportunity to connect players and fans in new and innovative ways, and I’m excited to be joining the company at such an important moment in its history. The last 12 years in baseball have been extraordinary for me and I am especially grateful for the leadership and mentorship that Commissioner Manfred provided to me and the League.”

Tony Petitti will join on to be in charge of the company’s esports businesses, which include Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, consumer products division, and films & television division.

Petitti will report directly to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

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