EA filed an ‘Engagement Optimized Matchmaking’ patent in 2016

    
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Remember Activision’s rather skeezy matchmaking patent from last year? That one was pretty straightforward in how it worked, if unpleasant: You buy something from the cash shop, and the game then makes an effort to match you up in a place where that cash shop purchase was a super great idea. Turns out that Electronic Arts has a similar but distinct patent filed from 2016, and it should get your hackles up just as much as its predecessor.

This one, at least, is not going to validate your every cash shop purchase directly; instead, it’s a matchmaking system dubbed Engagement Optimized Matchmaking that links you up based on play style, sportsmanship, skill, and willingness to spend money. The bright side you could point to is that it’s less explicitly about reinforcing cash shop purchases; the down side is that it’s still a matching system based on keeping you playing rather than providing a fair match, and at this point EA does not exactly have the goodwill of players. You can watch a whole video breaking it down piece by piece below.

Also worth noting is that the patent was filed in 2016, but it has not yet been approved. So it doesn’t appear to be live in the wild yet, but it’s on track to be.

Source: Destructoid, YouTube
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Sally Bowls

it’s still a matching system based on keeping you playing rather than providing a fair match,

I think even the old-fashioned matchmaking was about keeping players playing. The original matchmakers artificially matched me with the subset of players that are not that much better or worse so that I will play more.

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Castagere Shaikura

LOL don’t care. Not one EA game has been on my PC in years.

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Melissa McDonald

The sad part of all this noise is that Battlefront II is actually fun. I enjoy it. The graphics are stupendously good. It plays a little jerky compared to the best FPS games, but it’s extremely star wars-y, full of iconic characters and vehicles, and darn it, the game is just plain fun.

I feel like Rodney King sometimes in these game “controversies” about p2w, lootboxes, cash stores, buffs, gold ammo, etc. etc…. None of them ever seem to affect me, or my enjoyment of any of the games, and I’m baffled why people get so upset and outraged. And yes, before you ask, this isn’t my first time on the internet! :)

“Can’t we all just play along?”

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CubAvenger

♫ Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch. ♫

Star Trek IV - Humpback Whales.jpg
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Melissa McDonald

“that’s funny, right thar.” – Larry the Cable Guy

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Tazuras

“Captain, there be whales aboard!” -Montgomery Scott

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Greaterdivinity

Publisher wants to keep players playing its online games for as long as possible and makes R&D spends to that end: More on this story at 11.

A lot of these “outrage” stories really seem grossly overblown to me, but maybe I’m taking too much of a “corporate” view of things nowadays.

Also, patents get filed for shit that never actually comes to market all the time, so maybe this outrage will all be for naught.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

Publisher wants to keep players playing its online games for as long as possible …

Nothing wrong with that. The outrage is the particular implementation where it’s intentionally creating a mismatch based on RL purchasing habits. People who genuinely care about PvP want real matches not a ROFLstomp. In essence they’ve created a backdoor form of pay-to-win.

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Greaterdivinity

The outrage is the particular implementation where it’s intentionally creating a mismatch based on RL purchasing habits.

That’s a part of it, but that’s not what determines all the matchmaking. Remember, this is to drive engagement, meaning keeping folks playing. If it creates matches that aren’t fun folks aren’t going to play, meaning that engagement drops and the system isn’t working.

People who genuinely care about PvP want real matches not a ROFLstomp.

Does EA, or Activision for that matter (not counting Blizzard) even really have any truly competitive PvP games? I mean CoD has a presence, but it’s overwhelming a casual arcade shooter. EA has…uh…Battlefield/Front which are slightly more “simulation”-y, but are absolutely not tuned for competitive balance and due to the size of matches in both games can often be subject to poor balance. If you’re caring about super-tight balance in PvP, you’re not playing these games to begin with.

In essence they’ve created a backdoor form of pay-to-win.

Not at all. It CAN be, if they decide to handle progression poorly like they did in Battlefront 2. But Battlefield 1 isn’t remotely P2W in my experience, and this system in no way indicates P2W. It could be integrated into a purely cosmetic monetization system with future games without issue on any front, depending on how it’s tuned. And could, if it works as they want, increase the amount of time/length of time folks continue to play their games, both creating a more thriving online ecosystem for fans who are happy to have more populated matches while also helping generate more longer term revenue for EA. Which sounds like a win/win. But there are absolutely justifiable concerns that it won’t be handled well given EA’s history, and I totally understand and can appreciate that.

Xijit
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Xijit

*whisper*
Sush now, you are speaking rational logic in an EA outrage thread … If you don’t stop, the ghosts of corporate accusations past will begin haunting us.
*/whisper*

I beseech thee, o internet gods residing in your Holy Temple of Reddit, have mercy upon this misguided one for they know not what the internet is for!

*begins waving a sign with “EA raped my puppy, we should boycott all their games” on one side, and “look at how EA is laying people off! We should boycott all their games for how they fire employees!” On the other*

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KumiKaze

It could be integrated into a purely cosmetic monetization system with future games without issue on any front, depending on how it’s tuned.

I could see them doing this for something like Overwatch that has a huge player base. There are enough players that they could match you up in a fair fight, but the other team all have the “cool” skins for a character, hoping to get you to get that skin. It’s not affecting matches, just trying to nudge you into buying some lootboxes or playing more to earn them.

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Greaterdivinity

Yep. I mean, there will always likely be a hit to the other matchmaking whenever you add in a new variable but that’s not a dealbreaker by any means. With minimal impact on skill rating etc. and a large enough playerbase (which is honestly the most important variable in the whole equation to make it work effectively) they could integrate such a system without players even noticing, most likely.

Xijit
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Xijit

Corporate politics at play …

There is no way that it was just a regular nobody who accidentally dug up these research papers

… Funny how this stuff, that dates back to 5 years ago, just now hits the headlines.

How super convenient for Activision / Bungi that Reddit is pissed off at EA again.

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Bruno Brito

I have a question:

If i attempt to file for a patent of an hollow glassy object made for holding several liquid material, i can sue everyone using cups?

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van_glorious

I mean, that depends. Is your real name EA by any chance?

Xijit
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Xijit

Apple literally has a patent on swiping right to unlock your phone screen & then sued Samsung with it.

Someone patented how to make PB&J sandwich a few years back.

And Amazon patented taking pictures of your products with a blue background.

….. So yes, yes you can, but you also need some high paid lawyers who specialize in having cousins who work for the patent office.

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Arktouros

If I’m not mistaken just because you file for a patent doesn’t stop you from using it in the meanwhile. It just means you’re filing a patent so you can monetize other game developers if they try to use the idea you’ve patented, right?

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van_glorious

Take away the question mark, and the word “right” from your last sentence, and I think that would summarize EA pretty well in a dictionary.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

This. Applying for a patent doesn’t mean they are not already using this. I’m sure it is “in the wild.”

They are just saying “It’s our idea and we don’t want other people using it without our permission — and without paying us what we want.”

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TheDonDude

Do you actually need the patent to be approved before you start using it? This could be in use right now, no?

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Zora

I think the patent is to protect your procedure from someone else copying it, not that you need it to actually employ it?

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TheDonDude

Exactly. The article says that this isn’t live in the wild yet, but in fact it could be.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

No, in fact you need a functional prototype to even apply for the patent. Look up “prior-art” and all that.

ObIANAL but a grumpy old engineer that’s done this dance before.

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rafael12104

Hmm. What did I say yesterday on the article of worst impact 2017? Yup. Activision. And for this very reason.

We need to be concerned. Very concerned. Because while we are off chasing the lootbox debacle, EA and Activision and the like are quite happy to shift gears and easily manipulate in game mechanics to increase microtransactions and remove barriers to profitability like fair game play.

It makes my stomach turn.

Guys, this isn’t supposition or speculation. There are patents out on this shit. If it hasn’t happened already it is going to happen. AAA games will be rigged.

So what? Just don’t look behind the curtain?

Bullshit. Look, I like these games for lots of reasons. But one of the biggest parts is that I’m the one that is doing the achieving. That my choices matter as well as my skill and commitment. Because I am living in this virtual world for a little while and nothing should predetermined!

Otherwise, I might as well go watch another fucking episode of Game of Thrones!

Nah, this is it. AAAs will lose my money forever if they pull this shit. I’ll stick with indies and small studios who can guarantee me they aren’t and won’t do this crap. EA and Activision can keep they eye candy facade of bullshit. And I will keep my money. It may not sound like much in comparison, but I won’t be the only one. And you know what? Who cares if I am the only one!

I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “Fuck EA!” but the phrase is even losing it’s meaning.

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rafael12104

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rafael12104

Yup. Many corps hoard patents and don’t use them, but EA not use a patent that essentially enhances the profitability of microtransactions? Lol! Of course they are going to use them and Activision will use theirs.

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Armsbend

EA can do whatever they want. I doubt I’ll ever buy one of their games again. Everyone who does deserves whatever misery EA can cook up for them.

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van_glorious

You mean the masses that purchase anything solely based on brand and the popularity of certain themes and genres?

That’s a lot of misery XD

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Zora

Memory serving though, the original Secret World also was distributed/published by EA, wasn’t it? I should even have the box somewhere, unless I am mistaken with conan instead, which is by funcom too.

There are some pearls here and there… unfortunately. Would be too easy to avoid them otherwise :P

deekay_000
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deekay_000

tsw was just distributed by EA. no publishing.

and yes it was part of what hurt their sales at launch.