As Kotaku reports, a patent was recently granted to Activision which outlines a new matchmaking system that would pair players together in order to encourage micro-transactions. Which is pretty much exactly what we expect of Activision, but still breaks our hearts. After all, no one really enjoys micro-transactions.
Games already try to play on our weakpoints and get us to spend a ton of money, see: lootboxes, so it's not surprising that game publishers would want to find even more ways to get us to crack open our wallets. First reported by Rolling Stone, the patent, filed in 2015 and granted today, outlines a process in which computer algorithms can match players together in order to increase the likelihood of micro-transaction purchases.
If that sounds like absolute wizardry, well, you aren't entirely far off. The algorithm itself works in absolutely frightening ways. "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."
Now, Activision has reached out to Kotaku to inform that no games have yet used the system. Acitivion's statement reads:
"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."
However, that isn't exactly comforting. Because Acitivision puts out an absurd number of games every year, and we could see this system come into play sometime soon.
And if that above scenario about the weapon doesn't terrify you enough, the matchmaking system would even analyze player trends like 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, like generating NPCs to fill roles or dropping you on maps that fit your particular playstyle. But that doesn't stop this system from being an absolutely awful prospect. Because we all have enough time combating our gaming addictions, we don't also need to increase the financial burden of gaming by having matchmaking systems designed to force us into spending money.
Shortly after reports of the patent's grant, Bungie community manager David "deeJ" Dague took to Twitter to say that Destiny 2 does not use the matchmaking system in question. So, as terrifying as this system is, it hasn't hit us just yet. Sorry, you'll have to blame something else for your Destiny 2 failures.
And given Activision's statement to Kotaku, we won't be seeing it in Call of Duty: WWII.