Update, October 18: Activision say none of their microtransaction patent is currently being used.
Activision say their patent, which was part of an attempt to develop a system which would us matchmaking to drive new players towards microtransactions “has not been implemented in-game.” Currently, the patent, which was granted yesterday but filed in 2015, is not part of any of the company’s games.
We fear Overwatch may have been ground zero for the loot box trend.
An Activision spokesperson told Glixel that “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.”
That includes Destiny 2. The game’s community manager David Dague tweeted yesterday to say “none of this functionality appears in Destiny.”
None of this functionality appears in Destiny. https://t.co/IXlR05tZ1c— DeeJ (@DeeJ_BNG) October 17, 2017
Original story, October 18: Amid all the talk and controversy over loot boxes these past few weeks, a patent recently granted to Activision would see the company’s online games alter their matchmaking systems to encourage microtransaction purchases of new weapons.
In one case, the system could be used to match new players with experienced players making use of more advanced gear. The newbie would then be encouraged to buy that gear to emulate the advanced player. In another case, players who have purchased a new weapon would be placed into matches where this weapon would have an advantage against others.
“Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases,” Rolling Stone quotes the patent as saying. “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.”
This particular example would also have the side effect of making the other players in a lopsided match feel disadvantaged against the player with the new weapon, encouraging them in turn to upgrade their gear.
The patent was described as a “System and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games,” and was filed two years ago, but only granted by the US Patent Office as of today. Though the examples listed are specifically for shooters, the patent could be applied across a variety of genres.
We don’t know which games Activision have applied this technology to, nor even if it’s actually yet been applied to anything. Their latest release, Destiny 2, has already come under fire for its own microtransactions, which include both gameplay items and shaders with more limited uses than their counterparts in the previous game.