Activision has successfully patented a system it hopes will convince more people to purchase items via microtransactions in multiplayer games.
As reported by Rolling Stone's Brian Crecente, the technology is not currently in any games, and according to Activision it is an "exploratory patent".
Activision usually populates multiplayer games by looking at player factors including skill level, Internet latency, availability of friends, and more.
However, the patented technology (the "system and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games") puts an emphasis on pairing up players of disparate levels, so those of lower level will be more tempted to even things by shelling out cash for items.
It also promotes items it deems more likely to be purchased in any given circumstance, and when purchases are made, puts players into situations where a purchased item is highly effective. That way, purchase satisfaction is maximised, and more spending encouraged.
"In a particular example, the junior player may wish to become an expert sniper in a game (e.g., as determined from the player profile)," the patent reads.
"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."
Activision recently came under fire for limiting the use of item-colouring "shaders" in Destiny 2. A shader could be used an unlimited amount in Destiny 1, but in the sequel, it can only colour three items. Naturally, more uses and other shaders can be purchased for real-world money, or found in-game.
In 2016, Activision Blizzard earned US$3.6 billion from in-game sales, up from US$1.6 billion in 2015.