Activision Patents a "Microtransaction engine"

So with EA and WarnerBrothers working hard to screw their customers over it seems Activision is starting to feel their position as worst publisher ever is starting to slip. No worries they’ve been working on the next step of microtransaction cancer.

They’ve patented a system to turn their matchmaking services away from being about matching players of roughly equal skill levels against each other in order to provide a fun and fair experience into an intentionally unfair and frustrating experience in order to annoy people into paying to win, literally.

Here’s the patent if you want to read everything yourself

Here’s some select “hot takes” stolen from twitter.
Decided to pay to win? Now you’re playing for them, rewarded with “optimal” matches to browbeat others into buying. Didn’t buy anything? Well here’s a mark on your account to step up the torture until you cave.

Yeah, if you were in the habit of buying Activision multiplayer games, know that soon if not already the match making is not there to provide you with a fun game but to bore, annoy and frustrate you into paying for shit.


As someone who generally avoids Activision games, this may be a good thing. This is clearly designed for the purpose of being pay-to-win, so if the patent keeps it out of games by other companies, we may not have to put up with its’ bullshit.

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Yeah, no. Probably not. They’ll license it out to others and cash in on license fees from them. Which of course you will be paying for in the end.


Sounds like a load of fair and balanced matches… or a load of bollocks. Not sure, I’m not good at engrish.

Wow, just reading that patent it looks incredibly shady. It makes business sense, but I can’t imagine anyone being happy about it. People who buy additional content/unlocks get matched with those who haven’t which creates an unequal pairing and a lack of challenge or fun, people who don’t spend on in game purchases also don’t have any fun as they get squished.

I can’t see any way that it works.


So most people are throwing a fit over how this system will spoil everything, but this patent got me thinking: “Why do we believe that it’s even a new thing?” Considering for example how practices that Western audiences deride as pay-to-win are perfectly acceptable in many Asian online games, is it really a stretch to think that systems like that are already in use by anyone smart and greedy enough?
The only thing unique to this situation is that we now have proof of such underhanded practices.

I’m not sure how this patent can be enforced. How would Activision even know if somebody violated their patent? After all it’s not like they can go looking at inner workings of other people’s servers at will.

I guess we’ll see, but wouldn’t licensing this system be bad PR for whoever does it? I mean sure Activision can say that they’re not using it in Destiny 2 for example, hell they can even claim that they won’t be using it at all and no matter how everyone would say that it’s bullshit, we won’t ever have any real proof if such a system was implemented. The only thing we actually know is that they’ve ‘invented’ this “method for driving microtransactions” and that’s it. But if someone actually buys a license to use it there’s no space for interpretation, by doing so that someone is explicitly saying how much more they want to screw their customers.

PS My prediction is that like all other such scandals this patent will be forgotten by 99% of outraged gamers and Activision will continue doing business without any appreciable harm to their reputation, while quietly using this system.

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Are you kidding?! Wow, that’s fucking awful. I wonder if anyone would still defend microtransactions at this point.


still feel like EA canning yet another studio is somehow worse than Activision’s patent
ye bye Visceral, one more gutted and another husk to throw on the ever growing pile of once original and dedicated vision studios, until chewed up and spat out by focus testing and “market trends”

Activision’s little patent pale in comparison to such behavior
imo it’s just glorified SEO with usual consumer algorithm, just in mp games, not like it wouldn’t happen eventually.
-“oh you have x stuff, will show you off to/match you up the lowbies, so you can both pwn them and flash your bling at the same time to entice them to buy to get to equal level and/or be flashy too”
doesn’t really seem that far out or futuristic forward thinking to me. I would have assumed something ala steams bs store algorithm was already in place in mp games that provided micro-transactions or other bs purchases, like CoD, or BF 2 or whatever mp game has slightly mild p2w/lootbox/grindy mechanics

EA still a slave to their little batch of play testers it would seem (despite the verdict was in years ago, that shit don’t work and theirs are particularly shit)

then again, probably not that i care much anyway, haven’t bought an Activision nor EA game in years, i shrugged them off long ago. Same old shit different date, every time


I think you’re kind of missing the point a little. The idea of the system as a marketing algorithm makes entirely sense, it’s almost obvious. It’s the larger picture of it’s use and intent that makes it so awful.

This turns a major feature of a multiplayer game, the match making system, away from being a system to create a fair and even gaming experience for everyone playing to the exact opposite. This turns the whole reason for any game to exist at all into just a cynical money milking machine. Until now at least to some extent we’ve found microtransactions to be an additional element thrown on top of an otherwise enjoyable game, this turns the tables and the game is now just a vehicle for the microtransaction engine to reach victims through.

Consider if it was implemented in something with a ladder, like starcraft, dota or lol. The ladder exists both to show you your relative skill level in the world but mainly so that you’re able to play games against similarly skilled players so that you can enjoy the game. Now say unless you pay Blizzard $9.99 for a new ling skin ever month or even worse maybe a build time booster that for 24h lets you build things 10% faster you’re only going to be matched up against korean grand masters. There’s no point to the ladder any more, it’s only function is to figure out which players the game can use to punish other players through. Anyone not buying things or being exceptionally good is not going to have a chance at enjoying the game. Thus completely ruining everything, ruining why the game exists in the first place.

As for “oh it’s already being done we just didn’t know before” yeah, possibly. But it should also be noted that the pay 2 win culture so rife in Asian markets have had a really hard time to get settled into the west. We’ve resisted all attempts at it and we damn well should continue to do so. That someone is acting badly somewhere else does not excuse anything and does not mean we should just shut up and deal with it because others “have it worse”.


Personally I have decided to treat all AAA titles that double down by also adding free-to-play style microtransactions as exactly that: free-to-play games. It’s not like piracy means fuck all in my country. (hell, a few years ago the head of the police in my town payed me to install a pirated version of windows 7 on his new laptop because it was a fuckton cheaper than getting a license)


I’m not sure from where in my rant did you get an impression that “we should shut up because others have it worse”. Maybe except for the last paragraph that was about how fleeting and ineffectual consumer outrage often seems to be in these matters, but it still wasn’t “deal with it”. It was more of a “if you play certain types of games you’ll have to deal with it sooner or later and they won’t even tell you”.
I mean look at how some games get microtransactions added quietly after release or just not available for reviewers to see before launch. Or the DLCs that sometimes are obviously chunks of the core game held back to get a extra out of the customer. Gaming companies have decided that those are acceptable practices and numbers seem to prove them right - gamers as a whole don’t really take a hard stance - screenshots of steam comunities for boycotting Left for Dead 2 and CoD MW 2 come to mind - despite all the noise, they were all playing at launch, proving that in games industry the outrage is essentially toothless and useless when it comes making publishers change their minds on something.
And it’s not like they could’ve done much even if they stood by their words, those “boycotters” are just a droplet compared to the ocean of gamers who just play games and don’t even want to get into all the dirty details of gaming politics and economics.
PS Damn, now I’ve made myself sad :frowning:

You are of course correct and my paragraph on the issue was not entirely a direct response to you, though it was inspired by your post. The thing is that at every turn whenever anyone points out misbehaviour or maliciousness of any sort in pretty much any context there’ll always be people crawling out of the woodwork to tell us how pointless our protests are or about how things are done elsewhere or someone else did something worse and while you might not have directly told me to shut up and deal, what else is the point of such interjections?

All of those things are true, the boycotts against L4D2 was ridiculous but that’s no reason to tell people there’s no point in standing for their principles. I’ve boycotted EA, ubisoft and Activision personally for ages now. I stopped looking at EA titles before they even enforced Origin on everything but that was what really cemented my resolve. Same thing with Ubisoft, they’ve had a few titles that I would like to play but I’m not going to because fuck Uplay. I similarly stood against steam when it first started because it was a thoroughly anti-consumer, broken piece of shit. I relented years later when the things I objected to were fixed. Today I might agree that Origin is also not as bad as it used to be, but it’s still EA and they’re still horrible for all the reasons @Gnuffi mentioned, so fuck Origin.

I know that EA don’t care that I don’t buy their games, I care though and I don’t care that you think it’s a pointless action. Why do you care that I care anyway? What is your objection to my financial decisions? Why do you have an interjection at all? Why do you have to spread defeatism and try to tell anyone that they don’t matter?

Anyone who don’t want these things in their games should stand up against it, they should abstain from participating and we should try to spread news of these sort of things as far and wide as we can. We should try to inform as many people as possible even if a tiny fraction of them decides to take action against it, even if that doesn’t matter. One single person making an informed decision based on information I’ve given them is worth 1000 forum posts.

Finally if you have nothing but disparagement to say in response to such news or choices then you are acting to suppress that news, you are acting to discourage financial responsibility, acting to deter people from taking action and as a result acting on behalf of those anti-consumer practices. Even if you do not necessarily mean to.

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Yeah, I kind of figured that one out in hindsight.

I think we’re actually talking past each other on this point, I especially don’t see how I’m discouraging financial responsibility or suppressing the news.

Again, no objection whatsoever.

Now that one I have to agree with, I should’ve waited a bit to let my knee-jerk pessimism settle down rather then needlessly whine. So let me apologize for derailing the topic and try to get things back on track a bit.

I’ve been talking about how such a system may already be in place somewhere but upon some more thinking I believe it would be quite hard to implement without hopelessly and obviously breaking most games. To take Fraggles’s examples of SC, DOTA and LOL - I find it highly unlikely that they can really function with such microtransactions, in part due to how integral the ladder is to the game, it wouldn’t just annoy new players with overpowered opponents, those who play on higher level would also be disappointed to play against weaker opponents.

The more I try to figure out where this system would really work, the more I think that it was intended for mobile games already rife with pay2win. And though mobile games market is huge it seems to stay separated from core games on PC and consoles, so the chances of “proper” games being infested with such nonsense may actually be lower than we think.

And even if Activision goes full retard and actually spoils next CoD or the one after that - it’s not like we won’t have a choice of games from developers and publishers that don’t seem to make their games worse in order to bleed their customers a bit more. Sure the choice is quite a bit more indie, but for me personally the badge of “AAA” has long seized to mean any guarantee of quality so it’s not like there’s much to lose.

I would assume then that is because you do not understand the effects of your actions. By jumping into a thread like this one and engaging in


The hordes of people who do these sort of things create a general hostile climate to discuss things in. Someone trying to point out something like this is regularly faced with 3-4… 1000 people telling them it’s useless. I’m sure you can see how that will likely make them not want to do so again and anyone watching the scenario unlikely to do it at all or care to weigh in on any topic like it in the future.

So in effect suppressing the news spreading and discussion of the topic in question or people reaching conclusions on where and how to spend their money.

Now of course I do not hold you personally responsible for what everyone else are doing, just want to make you aware of what it is you’re contributing to. That from my viewpoint your choice of action indirectly supports the companies who’s unethical behaviour we all, surely, would like stopped.

So with that gone over again.

Yeah, that was my point. I used those games as an example for a reason, it makes it very clear what damage this system will do. Just because the ladder is not as visible in COD though does not mean it’s not there or just as important. Every match making system works on some sort of version of MMR hidden or not. This will as surely ruin COD as it would SC2 or any other game for that matter.

Well see this is abandoning ground, a retreating fight, which we’ve been engaged in for decades now. Maybe we thought this whole DLC malarkey was just going to be a few titles and we can always play the other games that doesn’t have it. Now everything has DLC. Microtransactions are kind of tiresome aren’t they, but at least they’re just cosmetic and in mobile and free to play online games… then Dead space 3 happened and then that just kept getting worse and worse. Oh but the next terrible thing wont be spreading like the plague through this heavily top down ruled market place will it? Yeah, it will.

Activision went full retard 20+ years ago and then it started inventing new levels of retardation.

Sure there’ll be indie games that wont do it, there will be smaller studios not ruled by the 3 prime-evils and they’ll likely put out some good games too. But why should we cede the entirety of AAA development to these sort of problems? Why not at least try to make as much of a stink as we possibly can every time they try to shove something new down our throats? I will and I invite you to join me.

Or at the very least ask you to not actively hinder me.

i feel like it has been like this for a while with most “AehAehAeh” games,
going all the way back to when carving out SP content and pawning it off as either preorder bonus or down right launch/post launch dlc. MP aspects too(like weapons, maps) with game balance changing effects too
and dead space 3 was probably one of the strongest indicators the mirco milking had truly begun
(oh hello there Shadow of War, you wanna play too and step up the milking?)

yep, agree,.
But luckily i don’t play mp, especially not competitive anymore. And i would think if it got out and public, that a given game’s ladder based section was infected by such program, it would destroy the game
(but maybe that’s a tad too much faith in people’s self respect)

and at the same time i would not put it past some companies to actually implement the system in a ladder based part of mp, just to squeeze out whatever few extra bucks they could (because remember, they don’t just want some of your money, they want all the money)

CoD isn’t really a ladder game tho (at least not last time i played years ago), and their scummy brothers and sisters don’t really dabble in much ladder either, EA, WB, Ubi, 2k. and most dont use proper or even mild mmr systems, just straight up random or whatever join first thingy
(hell even just basic fcn ping/latency, or ingame levels/xp/“superior items” don’t seem count much in most their systems. But it has been a couple of years tho, so they might have switched to something more/better calculating)

Blizzard (in a stupid way) don’t care about money, and combined with their ego, i think they would wrinkle their nose at such feature, like a true ladder snob.
Can’t say for Riot games, but perhaps they think the system they have in place now would suffice, and not dare the potential fallout of an Actibusiness, if/when it got public known.
(can’t say if i’m giving both players and company too much credit tho in all these cases)

i didn’t mean that at all tho
i’m just not surprised, maybe too jaded and cynical, but like i said, i would have thought something similar/milder was already in place in such mp games. Hence lack of surprise, and feeling it’s not as bad as EA chewing another studio up(which besides for gaming, has negative real world effects too).
That doesn’t mean i don’t find it scummy and utterly reprehensible, i do. I’m just not surprised :wink:

Nor does my caring go much beyond “i don’t buy those kind of games, or from such publishers anymore anyway -so wont affect me much”.
And those it affects beyond me, well it’s their own damn fault, they should have protested years ago instead of being so gd dang complacent.
I won’t blame publishers for when the west get asian style p2w/full board micro-transactions, i’ll blame the lazy complacent easy-excusing always-accepting gamers that forgot so quickly
So if wanting me to care just for the good of others/the industry, i’m at a loss there. Since the ArghArghArgh industry is too late to save, and already slated for damnation, me caring won’t do anything at this point. (see, i’m a proper pessimist) :smile:
and caring for the indie section/gaming as a whole,
-"i’m too old for that shit", 1 old farts conviction ain’t enough to make a dent in the zombie horde of kids, youngsters, millennials, mid-life crises’ers, and old geezers that just don’t give a fart about anything, like a proper good consumer.

All i can do and will do, is to continue only buying the games i like/find interesting, with whatever qualifiers/disqualifiers i deem appropriate - regardless of peoples opinion, peer pressure, publisher marketing or “market trends”
Nobody tell’s me what to buy or like, or to “stay/be committed to a franchise”(/slave to publisher) and “accept”-because it’s “normal/standard these days”. Nah, -if i don’t agree with it, i won’t buy it.

a few lost sales might not mean much to the publishers, but if “voting with your wallet” is our only option, i’ll still take it.
And in the end, why bother wasting money on something less enjoyable anyway, despite one’s initial reason.
seems some people are just willing tho throw their money away at anything that’s shoved in front of them, especially if it’s shiny enough
(imo polish a turd all you want, gold plate it if you like, it’s still a turd. I’d be unwilling to pay real world money for a turd, digital or not)


i agree, and even applaud this (even if i feel too worn down to do such).
i think maybe the main point about my post was interjecting another scummy move by another slum lord, to not be forgotten.
But maybe it all came off sounding like detracting from the severity of the sleaziness in main topic too much, which wasn’t the initial intention, just more like
“Activision is ramping up goo productivity. And in other news today -EA don’t like slime competition and started oozing extra too”-suprise!(surprise should be in a french broadcasters voice)

thanks for this, really gave me a good laugh, i think i needed it today.
probably in the future i’ll just mentally auto replace activision’s logo with simple jack because of this :joy:

About that…I went into Dead Space 3 fully prepared to hate it because of the implementation of microtransactions, but in reality they didn’t really have any impact upon the game at all. The resources that you could get instantly if you paid for them just took a little game time…and not grind time. You’d just continue playing and then a little later you’d get a message telling you that your forager bots were back. Plus it wasn’t a competitive multiplayer game so speed of acquisition had no impact.

People give Dead Space 3 too hard a time. It was nowhere near as good as the first two games, ruined the dismemberment mechanic and introduced unnecessary human enemies but nevertheless it was fun (and the beginning bit in space was excellent!). Although they managed to ruin Ellie’s character model… :frowning:

the consensus about dead space 3 resources, at launch -as far as i remember, was it was absolutely noticeable
might not be utterly slave grinding as things are today, but it was enough to be felt as an extra grind at the time

but i might just be remember things wrong and the grind critics/criticism might just have been fueled by pre launch hate, and one’s aversion to sp micro-transactions obscuring how it actually played/felt
(i still feel like most of it is hindsight because of the state of current games, and that dead space 3 was absolutely a harbinger of doom for things to come, so the example holds true imo -even if without the grind present)

PS, also, everyone -we shouldn’t forget sqeenix’s Deus Ex 1 use “dlc”/preorders
don’t let final fantasy devotion blind you to their true nature! :wink:

Honestly it really wasn’t. There were so many other problems with the game that were worse, the weapon system chief amongst them closely followed by the changes they made to Necromorph behaviour, that if the microtransactions really made any impact then I’d be first in line to decry them, but they had no real impact upon the single player experience.

People just react to MT’s incredibly poorly, especially when a company changes up a well regarded franchise.

hmm, maybe, ok then

well, even without the mt’s, many of the sp changes (because fuck ea and their market testing) was just overall unwelcome, and worthy of being reacted poorly upon
took a stunning vision for a sp horror space game,
and generic’ed the fck out of it, to the point i don’t even remember “the game”, just another regular 3rdPS adding one more drop in the ocean