The system may include a microtransaction arrange matches to influence game-related purchases.
The patent details how multiplayer matches are configured, specifically how players are selected to play with one another.
The article goes on to give examples such as somebody who the system identifies as aspiring be be a sniper in-game being matched with a more elite sniper, likely armed with purchasable gear in the hopes that said gear will become a tempting purchase. The matchmaking system, for one, will match a junior player with an expert or marquee player, so that the former would be compelled to make in-game purchases just to secure the upper hand.
This patent, though, specifically discusses how that system for pairing up players can also be used to entice a player to purchase in-game items.
"The microtransaction engine may match the junior player with a player that is a highly skilled sniper in the game".
Microtransaction engine 128 may analyze various items used by marquee players and, if at least one of the items is now being offered for sale (with or without a promotion), match the marquee player with another player (e.g., a junior player) that does not use or own the item.
Effectively, as a personal take, this whole concept is deeply troubling, and a clear stepping over the line between a cosmetic "tip jar" approach to microtransactions right into straight-up affecting the quality of the game experience to influence you to spend more money.
If the player does then purchase a microtransaction item, the game may even put them into games with weaker players or a scenario which makes good use of the item so they can wreck shop and feel more powerful. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.
While the practice is for first-person shooter games, Rolling Stone alleges that the system could potentially be used over a wide range of different game styles owned by the company.
Rolling Stone has reached out to Activision to check which games are using this system now, but based on the info we have so far, it might not be a stretch to say that Call of Duty is the #1 culprit when it comes to the matchmaking "tricks".
Another section of the patent explains that the engine would drop a player who had just bought a weapon in to a game with another player who is highly profeccient with the same weapon, "giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase".
Kotaku has reached out to Activision for further information.