A patent granted to Activision outlines a new matchmaking system that would pair players together in order to encourage microtransactions.
Systems such as loot boxes already use various tricks to encourage players to drop cash, so it’s not surprising that game publishers would want to find more underhanded ways to get those wallets open.
First reported by Rolling Stone, the patent, filed in 2015 and granted on October 17 of this year, outlines a process in which computer algorithms can match players together in order to increase the likelihood of microtransaction purchases.
Update: An Activision Publishing spokesperson has responded to Kotaku with the following statement:
“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.”
“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,” the text of the patent reads. “This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.”
The matchmaking system would analyse player trends such as latency and weapon preference in order to place them in scenarios that might lead them to buy certain items:
“For example, microtransaction engine 128 may identify a junior player to match with a marquee player based on a player profile of the junior player. In a particular example, the junior player may wish to become an expert sniper in a game…Microtransaction engine 128 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 highly skilled sniper.”
The patent also posits more straightforward applications, such as generating NPCs to fill certain roles on a team or dropping players in maps that favour their playstyle. Player-selected variables such as a preference for difficult opponents might also be used in such a matchmaking system.
Following reports of the patent’s grant, Bungie community David “deeJ” Dague took to Twitter saying that Destiny 2 does not use the matchmaking system:
None of this functionality appears in Destiny. https://t.co/IXlR05tZ1c
— DeeJ (@DeeJ_BNG) October 17, 2017