With the speed at which news comes out in the gaming industry we sometimes miss important or news worthy things. Some of these things we want to talk about in a way that is both easy for you guys and allows us to get all the facts together as some of these stories develop quickly. Sometimes we also just cover topics that we find interesting and want to discuss.
Activision Patented Matchmaking system to influence in-game purchase
It has came to the attention of gaming industry that Activision has patented a system that’s sole job is to convince or influence people in a multiplayer game to make a microtransaction purchase in game. Here is a direct quote from the patent “The system may include a microtransaction arrange matches to influence game-related purchases. For instance, the system may match a more expert/marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game-related purchases of items possessed/used by the marquee player. A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player.” It’s goal is to increase the amount of microtransactions purchases through matching players not based on skill but based on the idea of increasing the likelihood you will purchase an item. You can read the article posted by RollingStone and the original patent yourself. It should be noted that according to an Activision spokesperson that spoke to Glixel “It has not been implemented in-game.” that includes it’s not being used in the upcoming Destiny 2 game.
Wiggin’s thoughts on the subject : There are some points in gaming history that we don’t quite recognize as pivotal points that help shape gaming moving forward for the generations to come. This is clearly not one of those cases. This is a huge red flag for the gaming industry and more specifically the consumers of video games. I think this patent marks the beginning of the end as far as video games many of us grew up loving and enjoying. We have already moved so far away from buying the game and having the game and it having the entire experience in the box from the start. The days of expansion packs are long behind us and that happened in a relatively short amount of time. The industry is in full swing “games as a service” mode with them trying to turn almost any game they can into some sort of service that money can be squeezed out over time. Not only does this stifle innovation because there is no incentive to innovate because the last game is still making money off of.
Now we have Activision that are fundamentally changing the game, both literally and figuratively . Before this we always assumed that games would match you with players of similar skill as yourself to ensure a good and fair match up. This will never be true for the most part because now there will be doubt in every players mind moving forward that the game’s main goal is not provide a fun and exciting game for you to relax and play but instead main goal is to sell you more. This type of behavior from developers and publishers cuts so deep into the trust relationship between players and game makers that I fear that it will never recover. It might start out slow but this type of patent opens the doors for other companies to do similar and we know that unchecked there is nothing stopping this type of matchmaking from being exploited and abused. At the end of the day I don’t really have anything positive to say about this. It cements a lot of unfounded fears regarding developers and publishers designing games and systems to force you to buy loot boxes such as the recently released Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™ and Forza Motorsport 7. It’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm for all online games and that really just makes me sad.
EA Shuts Down Visceral Games
This week EA announced that they are shutting down Visceral Games and thus changing the direction of the Star Wars game they were working on. The explanation given for the shutdown of Visceral Games boils down to this ” Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.”. EA feels that they no longer can afford to make a great single player game and must change the entire direction of the game to put in some replayabilty for the sake for replayabilty.
Wiggin’s thoughts on the subject : This is another instance of greed over video game design and for the love of creating an amazing game. The rationale behind this closure pretty much boils down to “we won’t make enough money if they can only play through the game once, we need to force them to play through it again”. Along with the above article this is the type of news that just brings me down as someone who is passionate about video games and covers them all the time. I want to be excited about these new games and systems. When I read these types of things it just reiterates even louder that many games developers and companies aren’t making games because they like to make games but because there are enough people out there that will gladly pay them loads of money for them. We have a case here with EA shutting down yet another game studio, this time because the game they were working on wasn’t going to have enough replay value for the executives of EA. The really puzzling part to me is if the sole reason was just because it did not have enough replay value for EA, why would they not be able to revamp the game systems to better meet EA’s requests? Why did they need to shut down an entire studio, one who made great single player games like the original Dead Space ? My guess is because the “pivot” is a bit larger in scope then just one aspect. I get the sneaking suspicion that this game will reappear in a form that was never really intended by the original Visceral team. I can only hope that this game comes out in good form and the developers from Visceral Games land on their feet.