Well, this is slightly gross.
Activision Blizzard has patented a matchmaking system that encourages players to spend big on microtransactions.
As reported by Rolling Stone, the “System and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games” was filed back in 2015 and granted this week on 17 October by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The system uses a variety of factors, including skill, latency and friends lists to match lesser players with bountiful ones, encouraging the former to spend up to reach new heights.
“For example, in one implementation, the system may include a microtransaction engine that arranges matches to influence game-related purchases,” the patent reads.
“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.”
The patent continues to detail that the system will profile players, trying to determine what types of skills they’d like to obtain. Those who frequently use sniper rifles, as an example, will be purposely matched with those with better sniping skills in order to show that ‘next level’ of gaming prowess.
“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 patent continued. “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 will then place the player in scenarios where his or her purchases will be of use, rewarding the player for their spend.
“Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases,” the patent reads. “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. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.”
Activision Blizzard has reported $3.6 billion in earnings from in-game sales during 2016. One of its recent titles, Destiny 2, has displeased fans with its Silver currency, obtainable through real-world microtransactions. While Silver cannot be used to purchase weapons, it can unlock ornaments and provide boosts that may, in turn, provide better loot drops.
What do you make of Activision’s patent?