Activision patent points at plans to manipulate gamers into buying microtransactions

Activision (Image credit: Windows Central)

How would they do that you may ask? Well, the patent revealed that by matching weaker players with stronger players—in a competitive setting—it might force the weaker players to purchase loot boxes and other packs which contained advanced weapons. Who wouldn't want to be as powerful as the stronger player if they kept on getting destroyed, right?

While the patent is rather in-depth, it clearly discusses how the aforementioned system would work. The paperwork filed by Activision says:

The microtransaction engine may match a more marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game-related purchases of items possessed 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 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.

After news broke, an Activision employee said, "This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by a Research and Development team working independently from our game studios. It has not been implemented in-game." That was the only statement on the matter.

No matter how you look at it, this research into psychological manipulation will be perceived as a betrayal of consumer trust even if it hasn't made its way into a game. The very essence of matchmaking is that you play with people who are at your skill level, to abuse that system to incentivize micropayments is distasteful, to say the least.

This patent demolishes the principle of a level playing field completely and will impact the way many Call of Duty players look at the franchise and the publisher.

Instead of simply saying that this matchmaking technique wasn't part of their games, Activision should've said that this was against their philosophy. A stronger statement from higher up the Activision chain of command against this practice might have reassured players. However, Activision isn't particularly known for caring about how it's perceived by gamers.

For those still interested in playing Call of Duty: WWII, you should know that the game supports Xbox One X and is expected to launch on November 3, 2017. It features classic combat and forgoes the modern era by bringing the franchise back to World War II, and apparently, it won't try to psychologically manipulate you into buying loot crates. Apparently.

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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.