Call of Duty publisher Activision has patented a method of matchmaking designed to increase a player’s spend on microtransactions.
This system would deliberately pair you with someone who had a premium item to show off, in the hope you would see and then spend money on it yourself.
The patent was first spotted by Glixel, in a report which initially suggested the system could already be in use. Activision has now responded to reassure it has not implemented the method in any game.
“This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by an R&D team working independently from our game studios,” an Activision spokesperson confirmed to Eurogamer. “It has not been implemented in-game.”
Bungie community manager David “Deej” Dague confirmed that Destiny, also published by Activision, had not implemented it either:
None of this functionality appears in Destiny. https://t.co/IXlR05tZ1c
— DeeJ (@DeeJ_BNG) October 17, 2017
Still, the patent is eye-opening in the detail it goes into.
“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,” the patent reads. “A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player.
“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 microtransaction-focused matchmaking could even be used to influence match outcomes to ensure players who paid money felt satisfied with their purchase.
“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.”
There’s no suggestion Activision is planning to use this system in a future game. Regardless, players will likely now be on the lookout for any suggestion it has been implemented.