How Activision Uses Matchmaking Tricks to Sell In-Game Items

Doris Richards
October 18, 2017

In another case, players who have purchased a new weapon would be placed into matches where this weapon would have an advantage against others.

Rolling Stone recently reported on a patent that was filed by the publisher back in 2015, where it was looking to design matchmaking systems for certain games.

The patent details how multiplayer matches are configured, specifically how players are selected to play with one another. It seems Activision is using a matchmaking system to influence gamers to cough up dough for microtransactions! The player would be matched with a highly proficient sniper.

Another example given would be a junior player who, through his gaming profile, is determined as wanting to be a sniper.

But even if it never puts this patented tech to use (as is the case with many game industry patents), the way Activision's system works to entice players into paying for digital power-ups is intriguing - especially since the game industry is now roiling with concerns over how big-budget games can effectively (and ethically) be monetized with microtransaction opportunities like, say, loot boxes.

Microtransaction engine 128 may analyze various items used by marquee players and, if at least one of the items is now 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. Naturally, more uses and other shaders can be purchased for real-world money, or found in-game. 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.

Regardless, from this point on in time, it makes it that much more hard to selectively disassociate gameplay mechanics and design decisions for Activision multiplayer games from incentivizing microtransaction decisions.

There are many layers to the patented system and it's surely far more convoluted than that, but sure enough, the end goal is to help boost in-game sales and microtransactions. "This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results".

A system and method is provided that drives microtransactions in multiplayer video games.

It also promotes items it deems more likely to be purchased in any given circumstance, and when purchases are made, puts players into situations where a purchased item is highly effective. Rolling Stone has reached out to Activision to check which games are using this system now, but based on the info we have so far, it might not be a stretch to say that Call of Duty is the #1 culprit when it comes to the matchmaking "tricks".

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