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
Activision Blizzard employees respond to CEO’s statement: ‘We will not return to silence’
Activision Blizzard employee group responds to CEO Bobby Kotick’s statement, demanding more changes.
Activision Blizzard employee organization group has responded to the email CEO Bobby Kotick sent on July 27 over the allegations surfaced from the California state lawsuit.
Kotick stated that the executive team’s initial response was “tone deaf” and vowed to work together with employees on correcting the mishaps after receiving intense backlash from the company’s employees.
The employee group has responded saying that his response failed “to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.”
The statement demands action on the four major points of changes that Activision Blizzard employees want to see, including end of forced arbitration and changes to employee hiring and promotion practices.
It further states that “we will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.”
The statement from the employee group is below, shared by Axios:
On the evening before our employee walkout, Activision Blizzard leadership released a statement apologizing for their harmful responses to last week’s DFEH lawsuit. While we are pleased to see that our collective voices — including an open letter with thousands of signatures from current employees — have convinced leadership to change the tone of their communications, this response fails to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns.
Activision Blizzard’s response did not address the following:
The end of forced arbitration for all employees.
Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.
The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.
Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.
Today’s walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.
This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.
Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change.
Whether Activision Blizzard executives have plans for the above changes remains to be seen. Over 2,600 employees of the company are participating in the Activision Blizzard walkout on July 28, with #ActiBlizzWalkout trending on Twitter.
The movement encourages all employees to not work on July 28 in protest of the company’s executive responses to the lawsuit and allegations.
Activision Blizzard CEO issues new statement on lawsuit, saying initial response was ‘tone deaf’
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent out a new email internally to the entire company’s staff on July 27 further addressing the harassment lawsuit which surfaced several issues with the company’s culture.
In this new internal email, Activision Blizzard CEO acknowledges that the company’s initial responses to the situation was “tone deaf.”
“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.”
He commits to working with all employees to build a better culture across Activision Blizzard.
His full email is below, shared by Activision Blizzard publicly:
This has been a difficult and upsetting week.
I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I so appreciate your courage. Every voice matters – and we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future.
Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.
It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.
Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Company. That so many people have reached out and shared thoughts, suggestions, and highlighted opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care for our communities of colleagues and players – and for each other.
Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear.
We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.
We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.
I have asked the law firm WilmerHale to conduct a review of our policies and procedures to ensure that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace. This work will begin immediately.
The WilmerHale team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, who is a member of the management team at WilmerHale and was most recently the Director of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.
We encourage anyone with an experience you believe violates our policies or in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to use any of our many existing channels for reporting or to reach out to Stephanie. She and her team at WilmerHale will be available to speak with you on a confidential basis and can be reached at [email protected] or 202-247-2725.
Your outreach will be kept confidential. Of course, NO retaliation will be tolerated.
We are committed to long-lasting change.
Effective immediately, we will be taking the following actions:
- Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
- Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
- Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
- Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.
- In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible.
You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world.
This new message comes hours after employees of the company announced they’d stage a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s initial response to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit has caused many employees of the company to protest in anger over how executives have handled the situation so far.
It remains to be seen how or if this new statement from Kotick will change employee’s views as time goes on.
Activision Blizzard’s new statement took 6 days since the initial lawsuit (and statement) were released.
We’ll continue to keep everyone updated as the situation continues to unfold.
Activision Blizzard employees to walk out over executive response to lawsuit
Activison Blizzard employees are staging a walkout, demanding better response from executives over lawsuit.
Activision Blizzard employees will walk out and host a protest in front of Blizzard Entertainment HQ on July 28 in Irvine, CA over the company’s executive response to the harassment lawsuit.
Employees will go to Irvine, CA Blizzard HQ on July 28 from 10AM PT – 2PM PT to protest and strike against the company over their lack of proper response to the lawsuit.
“We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” the organizers said.
The group sent the following statement of intent:
“Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
In addition, the group asked all employees of Activision Blizzard to not work on July 28, from 9am PT to 6pm PT in protest of the company’s leadership.
The group of employees who have organized this have also listed their demands from the company’s executives, as shared by IGN:
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Employees have asked those who cannot attend the protest should do so online with the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout.
Activision Blizzard employees have remained persistent in their demand for better responses from the executive team over the harassment allegations in the lawsuit.
Employees sent a letter, with over 2,000 current and former employees signing it, demanding Activision Blizzard executives issue a proper response and provide a better way to reach a solution.
Activision Blizzard’s only public statement on the lawsuit called the allegations “distorted” which was dismissed by employees. Their statement said the lawsuit from California DFEH “includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
The company’s Chief Compliance Officer, Fran Townsend, sent an internal email which caused further backlash internally. She stated the lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories – some from more than a decade ago.”
Activision Blizzard spokesperson has not responded to requests for comments.
The employee organization group have also shared lists of charities to donate to, in order to help those experiencing discrimination in work place.
- Black Girls Code – https://www.blackgirlscode.com
- Futures without Violence – https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org
- Girls Who Code – https://girlswhocode.com
- RAINN – https://www.rainn.org
- Women In Animation – https://womeninanimation.org
- Women in Games International – https://www.getwigi.com
Activision Blizzard’s social media empire has still remained silent, with no posts from Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and more.
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