Activision's latest in-game money-maker trick uncovered

It isn't exactly a secret that game publishers have gone a little crazy for microtransactions. As the current console generation marches on, more and more microtransactions are appearing in triple-A games, usually in the form of loot boxes. It is any surprise, then, that Activision was just awarded a patent for a matchmaking system designed to help sell microtransactions?

The patent was uncovered by Rolling Stone's Glixel and details a matchmaking system that's designed to push consumers toward buying in-game items. As with every patent to be awarded in the US, the listing on the USPTO website goes into great detail about how this would be accomplished, giving us an opportunity to hear the scenarios Activision had in mind.

In one scenario, Activision theorizes how it could use such a system to encourage someone who's already broken the seal on microtransactions to buy more. For instance, if someone takes a chance on a rifle and wants to use it in-game, the matchmaking system could detect that and place that person in a match where their new weapon is "highly effective," thereby encouraging them to purchase more weapons from the in-game shop.

The patent summary also outlines a scenario where people who have yet to make in-game purchases – referred to as "junior players" in the description – are matched with "marquee players" who have purchased items. Those junior players can then see those paid-for weapons in action and potentially be urged to make purchases themselves. Activision also mentions the possibility of doing this when specific items are on sale – after all, if you get matched with someone who's using a gun that's on sale and that player does well, the temptation to buy it for yourself would presumably grow.

Though Activision filed this patent back in 2015, it was only awarded yesterday, on October 17. Activision has since told Glixel that it has never used this technology in any of its games, while Bungie clarified that it hasn't been used in either Destiny or Destiny 2.

Still, even with that assurance, there's no guarantee that such a patent will sit unused in the years to come. Though we haven't seen it implemented yet, the fact that Activision has been awarded the patent is certainly a little worrying for those who don't like the current microtransaction obsession of the gaming industry. What do you think of this patent? Head down to the comments section and share your thoughts!