Gamers are very angry over an Activision patent that looks to drive up the number of microtransactions in the publisher's titles.
Microtransactions, or paid downloadable content, are a way for developers and publishers to earn additional income beyond the sale of video game copies. Gamers, however, have grown increasingly frustrated with microtransactions, as they make titles feel incomplete and give rise to "pay-to-win" scenarios.
The Problem With The Activision Patent For Microtransactions
The controversial patent, which was filed by Activision in 2015 but only recently granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is both entitled and described as "a system and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games."
The patent basically rewards players who engage in microtransactions and punish those who do not purchase downloadable content by exploiting the matchmaking algorithms of multiplayer games. The system described in the patent will place players who have not been buying content against those with higher levels or against opponents who have been taking advantage of microtransactions to power up their characters. The point is that these players will get dominated so that they will think about giving in and pay real money for in-game content.
Also covered by the patent is the reverse of the scenario, with players who upgraded their characters with microtransactions to be matched up against lower-level opponents whom they can easily win against. Players may also be placed in matches where the item that they just purchased will give them a sizable advantage over their enemies. The system hopes to make players feel really good about microtransactions so that they will purchase more in-game items in the future.
Activision Microtransaction Patent Backlash
Gamers are understandably outraged over the patent, as the system discussed in it will only make microtransactions an even bigger problem.
Activision, however, said that none of the systems in the approved patent have been implemented in any of its games and that the patent was simply an exploratory one that was filed by a team working independently from its studios. Bungie's David "DeeJ" Dague confirmed that none of the functionality appears in Destiny 2, while Sledgehammer Games cofounder Michael Condrey said the same for Call of Duty: WWII.
The responses of Activision, however, could be a cause for alarm. While it is clear that the systems in the controversial patent have not been implemented in any of the publisher's current games, there has so far been no clear statement that the systems will never be used.
The best thing that gamers can do right is now is to remain vigilant after knowing that such a system exists and call out publishers and developers who are looking to abuse microtransactions.