UPDATE: Activision sent us the following statment in regards to this new patent being revealed, stating that the matchmaking patent was an exploratory patent that is not implemented in any title.
“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.”
Rolling Stone magazine has uncovered a new patent from Activision that was filed in 2015 that talks about how the company wants to design their matchmaking systems in their titles. Activision was granted the patent earlier this month by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
This new patent appears to be about how Activision plans to use “tricks” in their matchmaking system to lure players to purchase more in-game items through the course of playing a game. Specifically (one aspect of the large patent), the patent mentions that high skilled players get paired with low-skilled players to purposefully encourage low-skilled players to spend more money to get better in-game items to match up against higher skilled players.
“For example, in one implementation, the system may include a microtransaction engine that arranges matches to influence game-related purchases. 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. A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player.”
Furthermore, the patent describes that Activision could use the matchmaking data to encourage players to buy specific items they want, for example a sniper rifle.
“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.”
The patent also details that Activision may matchmake those who own a specific microtransaction item with those who do not, which could encourage the player who does not own the microtransaction item to purchase in-game credits to get it.
“Microtransaction engine 128 may analyze various items used by marquee players and, if at least one of the items is currently being offered for sale (with or without a promotion), match the marquee player with another player (e.g., a junior player) that does not use or own the item. Similarly, microtransaction engine 128 may identify items offered for sale, identify marquee players that use or possess those items, and match the marquee players with other players who do not use or possess those items. In this manner, microtransaction engine 128 may leverage the matchmaking abilities described herein to influence purchase decisions for game-related purchases.”
The patent also reveals how Activision could make players more encouraged to purchase additional in-game content after an initial purchase. The new engine they received a patent for would allow Activision to matchmake players with microtransaction items into games which highlight the power of the microtransaction item, leading players to feel satisfied with the purchase to buy additional content because of the gratification of the purchase.
“In an implementation, when a player makes a game-related purchase, microtransaction engine 128 may encourage future purchases by matching the player (e.g., using matchmaking described herein) in a gameplay session that will utilize the game-related purchase. Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases. For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, microtransaction engine 128 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. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.”
As part of the summary of the patent, Activision claims that in a certain implementation of a new microtransaction engine, the new system could “arrange matches to influence game-related purchases.”
Microtransactions first appeared in Call of Duty back in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 with new ways to customize content. Since Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, in 2014, Activision brought a Supply Drop system to Call of Duty where players can purchase loot boxes to attain random content. Call of Duty’s loot boxes have weapons in the game which do feature stat changes, like in Black Ops 3, Advanced Warfare, and some weapons in Infinite Warfare.
Activision has also come under fire recently for the Eververse implementation in Destiny 2, where some Shader’s could not be used multiple times in game. Bungie’s community director says the this matchmaking system is not implemented in Destiny.
We shared more information about the patent in this article here.