Only a couple weeks after Activision was granted a microtransaction-focused patent, an application for another one has been found, thanks to Dot Esports.
The application for the new patent, called “System and Method of Identifying Portions of Video Game Streams for Driving Microtransactions,” was filed five months after the previous patent. Two names that appeared on the list of creators of the original name also appear on the new patent. While the initial patent focused on multiplayer games, this newer one focuses on playing back gameplay via a game log and highlighting microtransactions in the replay.
Essentially, this Activision patent looks to have a game generate what’s called a game log, which can be plugged into a system to recreate gameplay and all its variables. This recreation is called a Video Game Stream, or VGS. Game logs can also be annotated in different ways, providing the opportunity to make multiple streams from one source. Annotations can include implicit details, like the difficulty level, what power-ups are in play, or the current state of the player. For example, if someone completes a level in a shooter game, they can record it in a game log, annotate it as they please, and send it to a friend. That friend can load up a stream based on that log to see how that level was completed, like a walkthrough for every step of the way.
These annotations, called metadata, can include more insidious information, such as pointing out a new skin or weapon and prompting the viewer to buy it. According to the patent file, during playback, the new item can be highlighted and turn into a hotspot. If a viewer then selects it, they can immediately purchase that new item. If a game includes an advertisement for real-world products, those ads can also be highlighted, turned into a hotspot, and clicked on for immediate purchase.
On the surface, it sounds like an idea that would fit in well with gaming culture. With social media, sharing images and videos of gameplay has become a popular mainstay of the online gaming community, and this potential patent seems like another opportunity for sharing replays while avoiding the large file sizes of videos. But remember that the end goal of these streams is to drive microtransactions, per the title of the patent application.
In some ways, it's similar to theater mode, a feature found in games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops. The system takes things a step further though, allowing viewers to change camera angles in the stream, which isn’t really possible in most games. This patent could allow people to share and view gaming content in a more detailed way. According to Dot Esports, this system hasn’t been implemented into any Activision-Blizzard games that are currently out.