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Avatar image for nicksmi56
#1 Edited by nicksmi56 (828 posts) -

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/10/17/activision-files-patent-for-microtransaction-minded-matchmaking-system

So according to the article and chart, this system would deliberately match players with people that have purchased items that they may find useful, in order to tempt them to buy said item. If they buy the item afterward, they're placed in a game where the item would be extremely useful. If they don't, the system makes a note of it and presumably keeps trying.

Does this feel really sleazy to anyone else? It's one thing to have the microtransactions in the game. It's another thing to drop new players into games where they get wrecked in order to get them to buy into it. Activision has reached out to say that the system isn't in use in Destiny or their other current games, but that says nothing for the future.

EDIT: Here's the chart for anyone interested:

No Caption Provided

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#2 Posted by ragnar_mike (280 posts) -

That sounds a lot like the matchmaking system of Clash Royale, ie why a lot of people stopped playing that game. I feel like a lot of F2P games already do that, so I'm not sure how successful Activision is going to be at actually receiving said patent. I actually don't mind loot crates, but I do prefer they be limited to ornamental things and not gameplay affecting elements. When you shift the balance of the game in favor of trying to lure in whales, that's when it feels badto me.

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#3 Posted by FlashFlood_29 (4353 posts) -

Regardless of its implememtation or not, this is as scummy as it gets.

I knew Vinny was right with all the psychological marketing machine stuff, but this is so much deeper than I could have imagined.

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#4 Posted by TheHT (15786 posts) -

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/72/a2/ed/72a2edad6c88ec41105e3c83d30632c0.gif

Avatar image for lestephan
#5 Edited by LeStephan (1213 posts) -

Sleazy as fuuuuuuck, I agree.

This just showed up in my youtube thingie before I saw this thread.

Loading Video...
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#6 Posted by deactivated-5ba16609964d9 (3361 posts) -

Activision and EA in an eternal struggle to prove who can be hated more.

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#7 Posted by Slag (8153 posts) -

AAA game companies are sure trying their best to push me out of this hobby.

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#8 Posted by sammo21 (5958 posts) -

Here's the thing guys...don't like it? Don't buy their games. Most people who get upset and over it still buy the games. Most people who say they are going to boycott a game or company still buy their stuff.

Just don't.

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#9 Edited by ImGrifter (62 posts) -

That's smart af, but still pretty sleazy. Not at all surprised though, and not really bothered by it.

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#10 Posted by FacelessVixen (2504 posts) -

@sammo21 said:

Here's the thing guys...don't like it? Don't buy their games. Most people who get upset and over it still buy the games. Most people who say they are going to boycott a game or company still buy their stuff.

Just don't.

If only such a utopia existed, instead of just the same old shit of bitching about a thing, but still putting money towards the thing in question.

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#11 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

The thing I love most about this is that Activision didn't just DO this. They could have done this at any time and not told a soul. But they wanted to make sure that they're the ONLY ones who can do this. That's the only reason you patent something in the first place.

So, thanks Activision for being so greedy that you not only are forced to tell the world you want to do this, but also thanks for perhaps saving us from every other developer doing it in the future. You'll be like Namco not letting anyone put mini games into their load screens, only accidentally beneficial for the customers of all your competitors.

I really hope that mainstream media picks up on the psychological manipulation found in this year's COD supply drop system, as well. That could definitely be a story that would surprise non-gamers, and end up as bad press for Activision.

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#12 Edited by Justin258 (15548 posts) -

@sammo21 said:

Here's the thing guys...don't like it? Don't buy their games. Most people who get upset and over it still buy the games. Most people who say they are going to boycott a game or company still buy their stuff.

Just don't.

What if these are the kinds of games I want, but I want them without the shitty microtransactions?

OK, I don't actually much care for the kinds of games that get filled with microtransactions now - but if you had told me a few years ago that this generation would have a few new Star Wars Battlefront games coming out, I'd have been pumped. I loved those games as a kid. But I don't want to buy this new one because of all the microtransactions. I do want to play Destiny 2 because I enjoyed the first one, but again - it's got microtransactions and I don't want to pay $60 and then get asked to pay even more money.

If you're really into the big multiplayer games every year and that's all you really play, you're getting shafted by all of them now. Destiny, Halo, Battlefront, Call of Duty, Overwatch, all of them are just machines made to suck more money out of you and it's depressing and it just sucks. It's even worse for people whose circle of gaming friends do buy into those games and suddenly they're left without much social gaming anymore.

There was a time where I thought microtransactions in full-priced games would be OK, because it would mean that the meaningful content would be free. But I would happily go back to paying $15 for a map pack every three months or so if it meant we could be rid of all these fucking microtransactions. Well, if I played multiplayer games anymore, that is - I stick to mostly single player games and most of the games I'm interested in haven't fallen victim to these microtransactions yet. At least not directly, EA shut down Visceral Games and it seems like that's at least partially because Visceral wasn't making a game that could print EA money.

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#13 Posted by Bill_McNeal (805 posts) -

"Oh hey, this boss is immune to everything but fire damage. Oh, it looks like you don't have any weapons with elemental damage.

...But good news! We're actually having a sale this week on fire weapons!"

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#14 Edited by DrFlapjack (372 posts) -

@justin258: Holy moly, I completely forgot Halo had those card pack things. I love Halo, but completely bounced off of 5 and part of it was because of that.

I'm not sure if I'm old school or just frugal, but I've never bought any microtransactions. I have purcahsed DLC, but I'd rather make a one-time purchase and have access to everything. Having matchmaking manipulate users and encourage them to purchase items is pretty gross. Hopefully most players will see through it.

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#15 Edited by Hayt (1641 posts) -

At first I was like "holy shit this is the worst" but by patenting it it means it only appears in Activision games and saves any other game from having it. Please continue to patent awful shit so that no one else can use it, Activision.

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#16 Edited by Mike (17976 posts) -

@hayt said:

At first I was like "holy shit this is the worst" but by patenting it it means it only appears in Activision games and saves any other game from having it. Please continue to patent awful shit so that no one else can use it, Activision.

They can just license out the technology.

Moderator
Avatar image for isomeri
#17 Posted by isomeri (3107 posts) -

I'm pretty sure that the EU might intervene in all of this at some point on anti-gambling grounds.

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#18 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (6354 posts) -

@mike said:
@hayt said:

At first I was like "holy shit this is the worst" but by patenting it it means it only appears in Activision games and saves any other game from having it. Please continue to patent awful shit so that no one else can use it, Activision.

They can just license out the technology.

Do you really see EA or Ubisoft paying Activision for something like this? I have to imagine there are other ways to make your micro-transactions look attractive, that don't involve paying large sums of money to your biggest competitors.

Is anything like that even happening now? Are there EA patents that Activision is paying for, because they just have to have it in their game?

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#19 Edited by whitegreyblack (1947 posts) -

I wish companies (and this is not exclusive to the games industry by ANY means) would take a stab at selling things to people not through slimy psychological manipulation, but by - oh, I don't know - offering a great high quality product that's sold at a fair price and in an honest and earnest fashion? Ah, to dream.

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#20 Posted by dudeglove (13662 posts) -

@sammo21 said:

Here's the thing guys...don't like it? Don't buy their games. Most people who get upset and over it still buy the games. Most people who say they are going to boycott a game or company still buy their stuff.

Just don't.

This argument would still be all good and well if "their games" were in the same state as they were back in... well, before whenever the first form of DLC or season pass took root. For a very long time many folk - Gabe Newell included - have talked about games as less of a product and "games as a service". What this is seemingly translating into now is that - instead of more big budget titles - you are seeing fewer and fewer titles from major publishers (Valve are making a card game for crying out loud), and that existing games are themselves being turned into monetization holes (fun experiment - try finding any game published by a major entity in the past 10 years that doesn't have some sort of digital distribution tie in). As a result, it was almost to be expected that they'd all be trying to patent and/or patent troll one another with this form of monetization (see also King attempting to trademark "Candy" in 2013/2014).

And don't think that this won't end up impacting all those old games you once thought were safe. My personal hellscape vision of the future are 4K re-releases of Final Fantasy PS1/2 games that somehow take 200 GB of hard drive space, but you're paying per hour to play through the single player game.

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#21 Posted by dagas (3659 posts) -

The part that says players that spend money will be matchmade to end up in matches where the item they spent money on is good is really scary. Soon we will have a gaming culture of premium players who spend money and other players who have a shitty experience.

I am not falling for it. I can always go back to my back catalogue not games from before they got like this.

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#22 Posted by Ares42 (4242 posts) -

Not trying to excuse it or anything, but I think it's important to remember that Activision is heavily invested in the mobile market and that is probably where this would be/is implemented. Sure, it might be a sign for a "distant" future for console and PC games, but this comes off as the kinda sleazy tactics they can get away with on mobile because of the difference in audience.

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#23 Posted by deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1 (1777 posts) -

This is not surprising Activison are trash.

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#24 Posted by sammo21 (5958 posts) -

@dudeglove: eh, I still hold that the majority of (popular and decent) games are released without shitty microtransaction BS.

@justin258 I'm not saying, "Love it or leave it!" What I am saying is that the only way you effect companies like this is by effecting their bottom line: hit them in the pocketbook. If everyone who had serious problems with their business practices stopped buying, even pirating, their games they would eventually change...but we don't...we continue to buy subpar games and complain about them. I am guilty of this with the Halo franchise. I think Halo 4 sucks but I still bought 5 and thought it sucked. I will not make that mistake again, so I just refuse to buy any Halo product 343i has a hand in (so basically all of them) unless they do a remaster of Reach.

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#25 Posted by Zevvion (5965 posts) -

Games have these types of hidden mechanics in their gameplay all the time, but having it to do with microtransactions does make it seem sleazy I think, because it promotes a worse gameplay experience unless the player purchases items. Holding your fun hostage behind a paywall seems like a poor system for players.

The community manager of Destiny immediately came out and claimed Destiny 2 would not use any of the technology described in the patent in the future. Which is good to hear decisively so quickly, but then again, they also said they would never do microtransactions, then they did. They still haven't crossed the barrier of selling you Power or actual gear, but they are sure trying to find the limits of what they can get away with.

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#26 Edited by ThePanzini (722 posts) -

@sammo21: For all the drama over supposedly bs loot boxes / microtransactions in Halo 5, Mankind Divided, Destiny 2, Forza 7 and Shadow of War its been much to do about nothing, Forza 7 is probably the worst offender in my eyes having a loot box economy which I don't like but the game gives you more cars than ever at a faster rate.

When fantastic games fail to sell Titanfall 2, Mankind Divided, Prey and Dishonoured 2 and mediocre titles like Ghost Recon Wildlands light up the charts I'm not sure what sort of message were sending as its clear most people don't give a damn about loot boxes / microtransactions or the same quality, even if no one buys them it cost the publisher little to no effort to add with a limitless spend ceiling.

Only a minority complain COD Infinite Warfare has one of the mosted hated video on YouTube with 3.6 million dislikes its the best-selling game of last year.

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#27 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2934 posts) -

@lestephan said:

Sleazy as fuuuuuuck, I agree.

This just showed up in my youtube thingie before I saw this thread.

Loading Video...

I read that description on Twitter yesterday, and I don't think I've been pissed off quicker by a description as dry as that before. Devs fooling people so they feel better about hit percentages or whatever? Totally fine. Microtransactions in games? I don't like them, especially in fully priced, season-pass supported games, but I can live with them. But explicitly patenting a way of giving people a bad experience to trick them into buying stuff? Fuck that. That's awful.

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#28 Posted by Sdoots (502 posts) -

Yo fuck video games

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#29 Posted by sammo21 (5958 posts) -

@thepanzini: I personally don't have a problem with loot boxes unless they effect the game negatively. I did think the "warzone" mode in Halo 5 was terrible because of how they handled the entire mode but I also think 343i makes boring/terrible Halo games. Destiny 2, in my opinion, doesn't count when it comes to loot boxes at all because of the nature of the boxes themselves.

The biggest loot box gripe I've had in 2 years is Overwatch because of how they handle duplicates. I personally have no game to boycott outside of generally just not thinking a game looks good.

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#30 Posted by Naoiko (1673 posts) -

Oh geez!

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#31 Posted by JohnTunoku (418 posts) -

That is pretty incredible. I'm glad I don't like any of Activision's games very much.

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#32 Posted by Memu (454 posts) -

You can't patent that. In any sane world.

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#33 Posted by bobafettjm (2298 posts) -

While I have never purchased any of these microtransactions or premium currency, and will continue to not do so this is incredibly sleezy. I have zero issues with cosmetic microtransactions if people like them, I do have a problem with ones that affect the actual game. If buying a microtransaction will give a person a leg up on those who do not purchase them, I will not continue to play that game online.

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#34 Posted by notnert427 (2158 posts) -

Holy shit, this is gross.

I'm also calling bullshit on this system not being already in use. I'm willing to bet there are far more complex algorithms with very similar roots behind the scenes of Destiny, Dota, Overwatch, et al., and that this is merely them distilling that stuff down to a simplistic form. All they have to do is add some branches to that chart and it's a "different system" than what's patented here, so they can claim this patented system is not in Destiny. Even if it somehow actually isn't and the Destiny community manager somehow isn't presently spouting 100% bullshit, this patent leaves zero question as to what they want to do and where things are headed, which would make it simply a matter of time until the promises from the community manager are bulldozed by the truckload of potential revenue that precipitated this patent. That they immediately released a statement on Destiny tells you exactly what game they had in mind from the get-go with this patent.

Activision Blizzard is literally trying to corner the market on this awfulness. It will actually be kind of hilarious and awesome if they succeed. I already pretty much nope the fuck out of their games for this garbage, so if they become THE place for it and prevent it from being in games from other publishers, all the better. I'd love for them to get a widely known reputation for this to where even some mom at Target asks "is this one of those exploitative loot games?" to the sales associate. In a perfect world, gamers tell them to fuck off, this strategy completely backfires, and Activision Blizzard tanks. In reality, gamers are getting absolutely played as the entire focus of gaming is shifting to that aim, and gamers are throwing money at Activision Blizzard to keep playing dolly dress-up on their virtual characters. Maybe this at least helps confine it to Activision Blizzard games, which I'll happily give the stiff-arm to.

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#35 Edited by ripelivejam (13078 posts) -

Not one for internet outrage and I'm usually a devil's advocate with most things, but this is starting to edge into "not a good thing" territory for me.

See, I have boundaries of what's acceptable!

My stance of loot boxes generally/ideally is 1. Make all the items available through normal play/means 2. Cosmetic/not gameplay affecting 3. Option to straight out buy what you want (even if it's a slightly higher cost than trying to luck out with loot boxes). Even so (so far) it hasn't been a thing that's really tempted me or affected me negatively; at worst I can just ignore it.

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#36 Edited by an_ancient (303 posts) -

If I may try and emulate an The Onion headline

"People outraged at publicly traded company making moves to stay profitable!"

That said, the funny thing is the patent itself. Wonder how many board meetings they ruined with this.

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#37 Posted by cloudymusic (2106 posts) -

If I may try and emulate an The Onion headline

"People outraged at publicly traded company making moves to stay profitable!"

If a company does blatantly anti-consumer stuff, many consumers will choose to call attention to it and talk about how much they disapprove. I don't see anything wrong with that. The free market at work, and all that.

Let's not forget that "online passes" are no longer a thing, and it's not like publishers just decided to stop doing those out of the goodness of their hearts.

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#38 Edited by nicksmi56 (828 posts) -
Loading Video...

Despite the title, this vid actually does do a good job of explaining what the new system would do, for those who don't want to read about it.

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#39 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4117 posts) -

@notnert427: In Dota , an update was pushed to make new players be more likely to be matched up with people that have a good behavior score. It makes sense that you want new players to play with friendly people to get a good first impression, but at the same time this system also helps new players to be matched up with Dota players that have been playing for a while already and probably have some cosmetics to use. I still believe that the change is mostly done to make it less hostile for beginners, but i can see the darker side of it as well.

Luckily it's just cosmetic at least, but i can see how a similar system in League of Legends would lead to new players buying the heroes, runes & cosmetics of the teammates that they see doing well in their first games.

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#40 Edited by whitegreyblack (1947 posts) -

@an_ancient said:

If I may try and emulate an The Onion headline

"People outraged at publicly traded company making moves to stay profitable!"

This goes way further than just being a company coming up with another strategy to stay profitable, and you know it. I know you do. I call shenanigans!

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#41 Posted by Crommi (400 posts) -

@isomeri said:

I'm pretty sure that the EU might intervene in all of this at some point on anti-gambling grounds.

I would say this falls under "advertising" in a same way that ad-profiling works by collecting user data and using it to show advertisements of products that are most likely to trigger a purchase action. For example, Activision-Blizzard could easily implement a logic where everytime there is a seasonal event with new special, time-limited skins, it would put higher emphasis in showing your most played characters on main menu to entice you into purchasing lootboxes to get that skin, especially during last day of the event when player has not unlocked that skin yet.

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#42 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (3011 posts) -

I'm also calling bullshit on this system not being already in use. I'm willing to bet there are far more complex algorithms with very similar roots behind the scenes of Destiny, Dota, Overwatch, et al., and that this is merely them distilling that stuff down to a simplistic form. All they have to do is add some branches to that chart and it's a "different system" than what's patented here, so they can claim this patented system is not in Destiny. Even if it somehow actually isn't and the Destiny community manager somehow isn't presently spouting 100% bullshit, this patent leaves zero question as to what they want to do and where things are headed, which would make it simply a matter of time until the promises from the community manager are bulldozed by the truckload of potential revenue that precipitated this patent. That they immediately released a statement on Destiny tells you exactly what game they had in mind from the get-go with this patent.

Nothing about what this patent describes really applies to how Destiny handles microtransactions. You can't buy weapons or any other gameplay affecting items in Destiny. I don't see how matching players based on whether they have emotes or ships that came from the bright engrams would entice anyone to throw down money. There are only handful of standout emotes, and you see them all over the place because they're super common. Most people I know have at least one of them, likely more, simply from opening free bright engrams you get from leveling up.

There's no situation where you could be matched against a "whale" and be repeatedly defeated by them because they spent money in order to entice you to spend money. You won't even see their ships, sparrows, or ghosts, and you'd only see their emote if they happened to do it during the match. Nothing about the way Destiny operates would apply to this microftansaction matchmaking system. Even if it were implemented, the result would someone that hasn't spent money being matched with someone that has a bunch of ships and emotes, which wouldn't affect the gameplay experience of either player in any way at all.

Avatar image for mezza
#43 Posted by MezZa (3036 posts) -

That's kind of crappy. I'm glad I mostly don't play multiplayer games where I could be matched up against/with people with advantages like that. For the good of everyone else, I'll continue to not buy those games or their lootboxes.

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#44 Posted by OurSin_360 (6107 posts) -

I am only surprised this hasnt already been happening? Seems like it was just a matter of time.

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#45 Edited by xanadu (2029 posts) -

I'm in the minority here. I don't see it as a "sleazy tactic" In a traditional multiplayer setting without micro-transactions, you are still at a disadvantage with other players who have unlocked higher tear weapons or upgrades. Even if you have unlocked everything, there are still advantages/disadvantages involving basic player skill. There's no scenario nor should there be where everyone is on a equal playing level within multiplayer games.

There is also nothing in this patent that suggests the micro-transactions will exclusively be content that you can't acquire in game. The idea that you are all going to be unable to remove yourself from these subliminal marketing tactics and subcomb yourself to buying micro-transaction content because you were manipulated to do so is crazy.

We we are smarter than that. This patent just seems like a more focused way to showcase what micro-transactions can do for you in game. As always, fair and balanced games will rise to the top while blatant pay to win games will sink.

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#46 Posted by notnert427 (2158 posts) -

@notnert427 said:

I'm also calling bullshit on this system not being already in use. I'm willing to bet there are far more complex algorithms with very similar roots behind the scenes of Destiny, Dota, Overwatch, et al., and that this is merely them distilling that stuff down to a simplistic form. All they have to do is add some branches to that chart and it's a "different system" than what's patented here, so they can claim this patented system is not in Destiny. Even if it somehow actually isn't and the Destiny community manager somehow isn't presently spouting 100% bullshit, this patent leaves zero question as to what they want to do and where things are headed, which would make it simply a matter of time until the promises from the community manager are bulldozed by the truckload of potential revenue that precipitated this patent. That they immediately released a statement on Destiny tells you exactly what game they had in mind from the get-go with this patent.

Nothing about what this patent describes really applies to how Destiny handles microtransactions. You can't buy weapons or any other gameplay affecting items in Destiny. I don't see how matching players based on whether they have emotes or ships that came from the bright engrams would entice anyone to throw down money. There are only handful of standout emotes, and you see them all over the place because they're super common. Most people I know have at least one of them, likely more, simply from opening free bright engrams you get from leveling up.

There's no situation where you could be matched against a "whale" and be repeatedly defeated by them because they spent money in order to entice you to spend money. You won't even see their ships, sparrows, or ghosts, and you'd only see their emote if they happened to do it during the match. Nothing about the way Destiny operates would apply to this microftansaction matchmaking system. Even if it were implemented, the result would someone that hasn't spent money being matched with someone that has a bunch of ships and emotes, which wouldn't affect the gameplay experience of either player in any way at all.

When Curse of Osiris drops and whatever gear comes with that is out there, it certainly seems reasonable to fear that Activision Blizzard will use this now-literally-patented strategy to match players with the hot new gear from the DLC up with players who haven't bought the DLC in hopes of convincing them to buy the DLC. Despite Destiny 2 thus far being more rewarding than its predecessor in terms of loot (though it basically had to be), I am not remotely convinced that something very much along these lines a) isn't already happening with better gear being placed by design in front of players so they'll grind for it, and b) that Activision Blizzard will not implement such a system heavily going forward in one of their biggest franchises. Call me cynical.

Right now, it's only mostly non-gameplay-affecting stuff available for purchase (although it's worth noting that mods can drop from purchased engrams), but there are two things to note here. First of all, if you've seen some other player with some cool gear and it's convinced you to keep grinding to try and get that (which is basically the crux of the entire game), they're just getting you used to throwing your time at it so you'll be more willing to perhaps throw money at it later due either to an increased investment in it or because you're tired of grinding. The second is that the fact that they haven't yet made Destiny 2 into a game where players spending money on microtransactions have a decided advantage doesn't mean they won't.

I figure Activision Blizzard patented this shit to use it, and if this is what they're willing to put out there publicly, who knows what kind of awful algorithms are at play deeper within these systems. It is clearly what they're focused on, to the point of going to the lengths of trying to limit the competition's ability to use their highly questionable methods. I'd love for them to prove me wrong, but seriously, everything they're doing suggests that their priority is to exploit their consumers in every imaginable way and to build a competitive advantage via doing so. It's the worst.

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#47 Posted by Slag (8153 posts) -

@sammo21: I think what would be better is to support games and creators that don't do this.

Companies are only doing this because it's the easiest way for them to make money. If the see gamers buying huge units of Prey , Nier: Automata, Tomb Raider or other games that don't do this, They'd try to copy them instead.

Instead those linear Single player games are apparently high risk and unprofitable, thus they move onto something more lucrative.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1
#49 Posted by deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1 (1777 posts) -

I hope this kills Activision the AAA crash is on it's way it's just a matter of time.

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#50 Posted by an_ancient (303 posts) -

@cloudymusic said:

@an_ancient said:

If I may try and emulate an The Onion headline

"People outraged at publicly traded company making moves to stay profitable!"

If a company does blatantly anti-consumer stuff, many consumers will choose to call attention to it and talk about how much they disapprove. I don't see anything wrong with that. The free market at work, and all that.

Let's not forget that "online passes" are no longer a thing, and it's not like publishers just decided to stop doing those out of the goodness of their hearts.

Agreed. I meant to write more but decided against it for the sake of brevity and since it's a bit off topic. I generally feel thought that I think this outrage is a bit late since Overwatch got away with blind loot boxes on top of a full price. It wasn't slammed very hard here for it and got the 2016 Keely GOTY. I guess I was pretty flippant, but what killed me is the linked youtube vid. Now people are upset?