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Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking

An article on Rolling Stone reveals United States Patent- 9789406 for a "system and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games" that was awarded to Activision yesterday (thanks Charlie INTEL via Slick). They applied for this in 2015, but tell Rolling Stone "the technology is not currently in any games." Microtransactions are currently a lightning rod, to the extent that today there are headlines because Warhammer: Vermintide 2 will not sell loot boxes. The ethics of how companies drive these is drawing a lot of scrutiny, and this brings that situation into strong focus. The patent rewards schemes for psychologically manipulating players into making purchases, outlining an 18-step decision tree for this, and fleshing it out with a 17,000 word description, in case you were worried they aren't putting enough thought into this. This is based around ways of adding the ability to drive purchases to the criteria used by in-game matchmaking. The abstract repeatedly refers to this scheme as "the invention," and here are a few examples of what they've invented:

For example, in one implementation, the system may include a microtransaction engine that arranges matches to influence game-related purchases. 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. A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player.

The microtransaction engine may analyze various items used by marquee players and, if the items are being promoted for sale, match the marquee player with another player (e.g., a junior player) that does not use or own the items. Similarly, the microtransaction engine may identify items to be promoted, identify marquee players that use those items, and match the marquee players with other players who do not use those items. In this manner, the microtransaction engine may leverage the matchmaking abilities described herein to influence purchase decisions for game-related purchases.

In one implementation, the microtransaction engine may target particular players to make game-related purchases based on their interests. For example, the microtransaction engine 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 (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.

In one implementation, when a player makes a game-related purchase, the microtransaction engine may encourage future purchases by matching the player (e.g., using matchmaking described herein) in a gameplay session that will utilize the game-related purchase. Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases. 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.

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54 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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54. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 19, 2017, 08:48 Muscular Beaver
 
El Pit wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 23:28:
tk0121 wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 20:05:
El Pit wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 13:21:
Activision, you should also get a patent on "virtual lube". Don't let your customers get shafted raw. Also: additional $$$ for virtual lube (sold in portions per multiplayer session for additional PROFIT!).

Yeah. Then they can use the lube for the virtual currency.

"Oooooh..... biggggg crate drop! I'll need a lot of lube for this!"

Next step: paid aimbot crates. You buy them, you open them in a multiplayer session, you use them, you win! LEGAL aimbots for additional profit! Everybody wins: the company, the gamer, well, not all gamers... Damned losers, buy your own aimbot crates NOW and RULE!
Well, it has been like that on mobile multiplayer games for a long time, so why not on the PC and consoles as well?
People dont complain, and then wonder why something like that happens...

This comment was edited on Oct 19, 2017, 09:04.
 
Avatar 12928
 
Waiting for BIS to come back to their senses and do a real ArmA 2 successor.
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53. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 23:28 El Pit
 
tk0121 wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 20:05:
El Pit wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 13:21:
Activision, you should also get a patent on "virtual lube". Don't let your customers get shafted raw. Also: additional $$$ for virtual lube (sold in portions per multiplayer session for additional PROFIT!).

Yeah. Then they can use the lube for the virtual currency.

"Oooooh..... biggggg crate drop! I'll need a lot of lube for this!"

Next step: paid aimbot crates. You buy them, you open them in a multiplayer session, you use them, you win! LEGAL aimbots for additional profit! Everybody wins: the company, the gamer, well, not all gamers... Damned losers, buy your own aimbot crates NOW and RULE!
 
They're waiting for you, Gabe, in the test chamber!
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52. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 20:05 tk0121
 
El Pit wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 13:21:
Activision, you should also get a patent on "virtual lube". Don't let your customers get shafted raw. Also: additional $$$ for virtual lube (sold in portions per multiplayer session for additional PROFIT!).

Yeah. Then they can use the lube for the virtual currency.

"Oooooh..... biggggg crate drop! I'll need a lot of lube for this!"
 
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51. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 19:48 NKD
 
As much as I hate to say it, CJ is right on this one. These weren't hostile takeovers. I think the only hostile takeover EA has attempted was when they tried to buy Take-Two like ten years ago. And that never even went through, they ended up dropping it.

As far as I know, all their other acquisitions were done with approval of the management of the company they were buying.
 
Avatar 43041
 
The solution to the toxicity of identity politics surely isn't to add white identity politics to the mix.
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50. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 19:36 CJ_Parker
 
Acleacius wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:58:
CJ_Parker wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 14:52:
Acleacius wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 14:34:
Think of all the developers they've killed off, most of them were hostilely taken over for their IPs, then treated like shit until the company was killed off.

Now this is bullshit. As much as EA and Actiblizz are fucksticks but let's stick to reality here. People like Roberts, Garriott or Molyneux (among others) are fucking sellouts who were very glad to hand over the keys for dozens of millions. Some of them are even repeat offenders like Molyneux who made a fortune from selling Bullfrog to EA and later Lionhead to MS.
There wasn't really anything "hostile" about it. They were laughing all the way to the bank.
No idea what this has to do with anything I mentioned. Take bioware as an example or anyone of the dozens of other developers during the 2000s. In case you were not paying attention to gaming back then, ea was hit hard because of their abusive treatment of employees, in near slave like conditions.

It doesn't matter what you or I believe, it's reality it happened.

You were talking about "hostile" takeovers which is complete bullshit. Complete. Utter. Bullshit. Google "hostile takeover" to educate yourself. Then come back with a straight face and tell me which one(s) of the studio(s) EA dismantled were "hostilely" taken over by EA.
Come on. Do it. I've wanted to have a really good laugh all day.

Also, what does the alleged EA gamer spouse letter (the veracity of which was never confirmed AFAIK) have to do with hostile takeovers? Seriously? Are you on drugs?
Besides, the holy CD Projekt does not seem to be much better in terms of working conditions (perma-crunch) but it's alright because they are the good guys, right?
 
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49. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 19:34 RedEye9
 
Bundy wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 18:35:
Dr Evil levels of diabolical going on here.
The microtransaction engine, it's pure genius.
 
Avatar 58135
 
https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/andy-borowitz
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48. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 18:35 Bundy
 
Dr Evil levels of diabolical going on here.  
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47. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 18:28 Hanneth
 
Try re-reading it. This means you can pay to not only get better gear, but also be paired with people you can slaughter with your new gear.
It quite literally is pay to win.

chickenboo wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 10:45:
The thing that irks me about this, is that this is once again simply common sense. It's already obvious that junior players are going to see the pros running around with their (a la TF2) iPod earbuds and hats for their hats and Santa Claus beards and want them too, and head off to the store. Activision is simply codifying this into a patent so they can get the jump on other devs/publishers in the industry.

It's just so sad watching the industry go this way.
 
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46. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 16:56 WaltC
 
Ozmodan wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:04:
How is this even patentable? The yahoos at the patent office must be drinking la la juice.

If only congress would fix our broken patent system.

Yes, the patent office is ridiculous these days...look how many patents Apple had shot down, for instance...;) Heck, Apple tried to trademark the English word "Apple" for crying out loud! They lost, of course...;) Anyway, the thing is with patents like this all anyone has to do who wishes not to pay the "licensing fee" Activision will charge for Micro transactions is to demonstrate "prior art"--that is, the patented concept (you aren't supposed to be able to patent concepts, anyway--but I think the patent office doesn't know the difference between a concept and a schematic) has been done before by other parties. That's it--patent is dead in the water first time they try and use it. What usually happens is that they wait for many people to use whatever they've patented and then they start the lawsuits, with the idea of making the licensing fees amount to much less than the legal fees required to press their case for prior art. It's lawyers, again, scheming to get their hands into everything people do. Hope it dies a quick death!
 
Avatar 16008
 
It is well known that I do not make mistakes--so if you should happen across a mistake in anything I have written, be assured that I did not write it!
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45. Re: Morning Tech Bits Oct 18, 2017, 16:42 Beamer
 
RedEye9 wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:22:
Beamer wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:15:
I mean, the thing is, if they've patented this no one else can do it. And if they try to do it it will likely backfire, unless many other comparable publishers are doing it. And they won't, because they can't, because patent.

So... this is a really good thing they did for us, even if they did it for the wrong reasons.
It's a good thing patents can't be bought, sold or licensed.

Between competitors in industries like this, it's usually under duress. Get sued, settle and cut a licensing deal.
 
-------------
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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44. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 16:20 DangerDog
 
They're not going deep enough with microtransactions if you ask me.

You want higher FOV? make it a microtransaction loot box with a sliding scale, 20, 40, 60 and ultra rare 100 degree FOV.

You could do this with so many options from the setting menu, from ability to mute annoying kiddies over VOIP to even tuning SJW bullshit added to games.

WWII authentic mode! Make all other players appear as white male gender for that realistic 1942 feel, one month access for $10.

Come on Activision/EA I know you can do it, make it happen!



 
Avatar 6174
 
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43. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 15:58 Acleacius
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 14:52:
Acleacius wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 14:34:
Think of all the developers they've killed off, most of them were hostilely taken over for their IPs, then treated like shit until the company was killed off.

Now this is bullshit. As much as EA and Actiblizz are fucksticks but let's stick to reality here. People like Roberts, Garriott or Molyneux (among others) are fucking sellouts who were very glad to hand over the keys for dozens of millions. Some of them are even repeat offenders like Molyneux who made a fortune from selling Bullfrog to EA and later Lionhead to MS.
There wasn't really anything "hostile" about it. They were laughing all the way to the bank.
No idea what this has to do with anything I mentioned. Take bioware as an example or anyone of the dozens of other developers during the 2000s. In case you were not paying attention to gaming back then, ea was hit hard because of their abusive treatment of employees, in near slave like conditions.

It doesn't matter what you or I believe, it's reality it happened.
 
Stop. Lose all scripted responses. Improvisation only.
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42. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 15:54 jdreyer
 
Ozmodan wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:04:
How is this even patentable? The yahoos at the patent office must be drinking la la juice.

If only congress would fix our broken patent system.

That would require the government to properly fund the USPTO.
 
Avatar 22024
 
Stay a while, and listen.
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41. Re: Morning Tech Bits Oct 18, 2017, 15:37 Creston
 
RedEye9 wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:22:
It's a good thing patents can't be bought, sold or licensed.

? Yes, they can. The latest thing for scum-sucking companies to do is to hand their patents off to a native american tribe, pay said tribe x amounts of dollars per year for "exclusive use of the patent", and then whenever an IPR comes up, they go "you can't IPR this, the tribe claims Sovereignty."

Just More Joy In The US Patent System

Edit : Just realized you might have been sarcastic.

 
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40. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 15:34 RedEye9
 
Now just add intels new Neural Network Processor
Social media: Providers will be able to deliver a more personalized experience to their customers and offer more targeted reach to their advertisers.

And shake and bake.
Intel AI
 
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https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/andy-borowitz
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39. Re: Morning Tech Bits Oct 18, 2017, 15:22 RedEye9
 
Beamer wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 15:15:
I mean, the thing is, if they've patented this no one else can do it. And if they try to do it it will likely backfire, unless many other comparable publishers are doing it. And they won't, because they can't, because patent.

So... this is a really good thing they did for us, even if they did it for the wrong reasons.
It's a good thing patents can't be bought, sold or licensed.
 
Avatar 58135
 
https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/andy-borowitz
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38. Re: Morning Tech Bits Oct 18, 2017, 15:15 Beamer
 
I mean, the thing is, if they've patented this no one else can do it. And if they try to do it it will likely backfire, unless many other comparable publishers are doing it. And they won't, because they can't, because patent.

So... this is a really good thing they did for us, even if they did it for the wrong reasons.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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37. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 15:15 HorrorScope
 
Gadzooks wrote on Oct 18, 2017, 12:36:
If there was ever any doubt before, there sure isnt any now:

Game Design is no longer about making good, fun, and entertaining games. Its pure sales now.

Depends on who you do business with. Don't support this you don't like. I can still find good games, more than I have time for. Why this is patentable is more the story to me.
 
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36. Re: Morning Tech Bits Oct 18, 2017, 15:11 Mordecai Walfish
 
Destiny 2 just dropped from my interest completely after hearing about this. There is no way I can in good conscience throw any amount of money towards fucksticks who are trying (or remotely planning to..) pull this kind of shit. They've been leading up to it for a long time with "inventive" new ways of monetizing their games, and I have steered clear of that bullshit for the most part up to this point but still bought their games if it was something I was interested in, Destiny 2 on PC being one that I was looking forward to. Not anymore. Fuck you, Activision.  
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"No, let me clarify - if you don't watch it, I'll be wearing your ass for a shoe."
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35. Re: Activision Patents Driving Microtransactions Through Matchmaking Oct 18, 2017, 15:05 Kxmode
 
EA is such a scummy company. They literally patented something that is universally hated by most gamers. It would be like a cigarette company patenting "lung cancer" and demanding you, the victim of the disease from their products, pay them royalties.  
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William Shakespeare's "Star Wars" Act I, Scene 4: CHORUS: And now, dear viewers, shall our play go to \ A Planet stark and drear for our next scene. \ Imagine sand and rocks within thy view. \ Prepare thy souls - we fly to Tatooine!
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