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EA Files Patent That Encourages Microtransaction Purchases Through “Creating a Sense of Urgency” and Devaluing Items

Electronic Arts (EA) have filed a new patent designed to encourage microtransaction purchases.

Patent US9666026B1 (Systems and methods for providing offers within a game space that decrease in value based on previous acceptances of the offers) was discovered by Segment Next recently.

The patent was filed back in 2014, granted in 2017, and active on October 9th 2019.

In short, the patent creates a “sense of urgency” as a microtransaction item decreases in “value.” The abstract goes as follows, along with included images:

“Offers provided within a game space may decrease in value based on previous acceptances of the offers. A game instance of a game space may be executed to facilitate presentation of views of the game space to users to enable interaction of the users with the game space and/or each other by performing operations in the game space in response to commands received from the users. Offers may be provided within the game instance of the game space that decrease in value based on previous acceptances of the offers. The offers may include a first offer having a first value that progressively decreases based on an amount of users that have previously accepted the first offer in order to incentivize early acceptance of the first offer.”

This could be akin to temporary discounts and sales, or the item only being available for a short time. While it seems unlikely EA could hold the patent on timed sales, even within a video game, Bandai Namco did hold the rights to mini-game loading screens (issued in 1998 and expiring in 2015).

The patent may even involve a batch of items (premium currency or consumable items), that  decrease in number over time. However, this is pure speculation on our part.

This patent was not originally filed by EA, but mobile publisher Kabam. They would later become Aftershock Services, and be acquired by FoxNext Games in 2017. In 2018, EA acquired the company and all assets with it, including the patent.

EA later issued a statement to Segment Next, stating the patent was not part of any current games.

“The patent is not part of any current EA games or technology, and we are not planning to include in any our games. The patent was originally filed years ago without any of our involvement, and came to EA through a previous asset acquisition.”

EA did issue, and currently holds, the patent for “EOMM: An Engagement Optimized Matchmaking
Framework.” In short, making sure players who just bought certain items would be matched up with players and maps that said item would increase their odds of winning.

EA’s involvement with lootboxes has been disastrous. For those unfamiliar, Star Wars Battlefront II was plagued by lootboxes and micro-transactions giving those who paid a clear advantage. It was later discovered that unlocking everything would take around 4,500 hours, or $2100 in DLC and micro-transactions.

While all in-game micro-transactions were later removed, the outcry was so great, it was one of the contributing factors to starting the debate by governments whether to ban or regulate lootboxes.

EA’s attempts to calm users on Reddit resulted in them “winning” the Most Downvoted Reddit Comment in the Guiness Book of World Records.

EA would later give evidence to the UK government regarding lootboxes, resulting in them claiming they were surprise mechanics” and were “quite ethical.

Ryan Pearson

About

Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.