Activision’s Microtransaction Server: Gamers And Media React To Server Patent’s Impact On Industry


Earlier this week, Activision was thrust into the spotlight, but not as a result of one of their highly popular games such as Call of Duty: World War II or the upcoming Destiny 2 release on PC. Rather, it was for a more nefarious reason that the gaming industry — fans and media alike — found themselves up in arms over. First reported by Glixel, the gaming arm of Rolling Stone, Activision was awarded a patent which was filed in 2015. On the surface, being awarded a patent is nothing to really shake your head at, however, the contents of the patent are what has the industry concerned.

Activision’s Research and Development filed a patent back in 2015 which they describe as a way to drive microtransactions in multiplayer video games. The system, in short, is designed to put players who made a microtransaction into matches with players the system has identified might be more susceptible to making a microtransaction purchase. The hope is that by pitting the players together, those who haven’t bought an in-game item would be willing to do so after seeing the item in action. Another example used in the patent portrays an expert player pitted against a “junior” player, and the ideal situation for Activision is the lesser player deems the better player as being more skilled due to the in-game item they purchased. At the end of the match, the hope is that the “junior” player will purchase that in-game item.

Activision Microtransaction Server Patent Figure
The process shown by Activision of how the microtransaction server might work. [Image via the US Patent and Trademark Office] US Patent and Trademark Office

Naturally, after reading this, many who follow the gaming industry feel as though this tactic is predatory, essentially using the new microtransaction server technology as a way to turn paying customers into effective sales tools without their knowledge. Some industry professionals have spoken out against the tactic, such as Jim Sterling, the host of The Jimquisition on his YouTube channel.

However, it’s not just media who are up in arms, many gamers expressed frustration on social media as well.

“This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by an R&D team working independently from our game studios. It has not been implemented in-game,” Activision said in a statement following the news breaking to Glixel. Following the breaking news, Bungie Community David Dague tweeted in order to assuage Destiny 2 players that the functionality of the patent had not been implemented in game.

As a whole, right now, there is plenty to be worried about concerning how this microtransaction server patent can be used, however Activision claims it has not been implemented yet. Their statement does leave room for it to be implemented in the future, especially with game publishing houses determined to find any way possible to drive game revenues up even further.

Have thoughts on Activision’s new microtransaction server patent? Do you find it predatory or simply something being overblown? Let us know in the comments below.

[Featured Image Courtesy of Activision]