So, what the fuck did Activision do now? You already know they won’t stop milking even if Rock Band’s udders are only producing blood. You already know the only thing that pisses them off more other than the fact that people Google search, “studios EA has killed,” more than, “studios Activision has killed,” is knowing they don’t own those Star Wars rights. You know Bob Kotick has never played Overwatch but gets a woody every time you suckle the teat and boot it up. Nothing could lower this conglomerate’s position in your mind further, maybe.
Activision apparently filed a patent back in 2015 that was approved this week that uses player matchmaking in video games to push microtransactions on to gamers. How does it do this, you might be wondering. Well, as the patent describes, it uses an algorithm to determine a player’s favorite play style. Say you are always using a semi-automatic rifle with a cute little scope in Call of Duty: Black Ops Space Nazi Zombie Mechwarrior 11, the game then assumes you are of the Designated Marksman persuasion. You don’t like to camp, but you don’t like to spray and pray, honorable profession. The game then looks through its database for players that are ranked much higher than you and finds n0sc0pedJFK. He is a 13-year-old with his mom’s credit card, who also likes Designated Marksman Rifles and recently purchased the MK14 Mod 007 las… whatever you get the point.
The game will then place you both in the same match on opposite teams to ensure that n0sc0pedJFK gets ample opportunities to kill you. The game hopes then that you will get killed multiple times by this rival, and each time you do, it flashes his loadout on your respawn screen. Over and over again, you will see his gun, with all its attachments and kills just glistening over your casual-dead-ass. The game doesn’t tell you that the kid is 700 hours into this game and would ruin you with a rusty fork nine out of ten times, it just keeps showing you his kit. Your mind will falsely fill in the blanks for you and hopefully, you’ll be either inspired or frustrated into submission and will pay the low, low, asking price of $4.99 for faster access to that family of guns.
No, it can’t be.
If you do happen to make a purchase, the database then pits you against lower skilled players to ensure that you feel as if your purchase was justified, inspiring you to consider future purchases when you artificially struggle again. You then serve as the aforementioned 13-year-old for the next would be customer. Exploitative? Fuck yeah, isn’t it fun? Certainly, I must just be spinning conjecture and it doesn’t actually spell that out, right? How dare you doubt me:
"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."
But what about that part where you said…
"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."
In light of this news coming to the surface, it’s safe to say a few people are upset. That’s understandable, and I’m sure Activision cleared this up with a very detailed and descriptive press release statement that explains this all very well.
"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."
Man, the only way that could’ve been less reassuring would have been to add “…yet!” to the end of it. Let’s assume that Activision is an upright company and let’s pretend for a moment they have never lied, does this patent look like it’s just toying around with the idea? What does Activision want more than anything? Money. What does securing the exclusive rights to implement a system that psychologically pushes people into making in-game purchases get you? Money. Thankfully, Activision doesn’t have any real big-name developers or multiplayer games out there right now that can offer any platform for this bullshit to be implemented into.
Okay, at least nothing else coming up.
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