Electronic Arts (EA) is envisioning a future where players will willingly provide their biological data in order to improve (enhance) in-game experience.
According to a patent (US10413827B1) granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office last month, the publishing giant hopes to adjust online game content based on biometric characteristic information obtained from the player.
The trademark filing outlines modules such as cameras, retinal scanners, pulse oximeters, and other peripheral sensors that will help EA determine “mood profiles” on the fly. The proposed system will start by executing an online instance, after which biometric details from the client will identify the kind of content best suited and have the online game adapt accordingly.
The system may include a biometrics module configured to obtain biometric characteristic information from user client computing platforms. The system may include a mood module configured to determine mood profiles for the users based on the biometric characteristic information. The system may include a content adjustment module configured to identify content in the online game based on the mood profiles.
Furthermore, such a system will function in an endless loop. EA will, for example, identify a first set of game content based on a first set of mood profiles. However, when the mood profiles change, a second set of game content will follow, and so on until the player either signs out or maintains a specific mood profile for a long duration — depicting ultimate satisfaction in the eyes of the publisher.
As for the content itself, the patent clearly mentions virtual items (microtransactions and loot boxes) to be involved. If EA feels that a player has been showing minimal interest in a certain batch of virtual items, they will be switched in accordance to what the player is likely to be interested in.
Giving up biological data might not be something players would be happy about but do take note that EA will leave it on the players to decide. EA will not be extracting biometric information from the players without their consent.
It’s also important to know that EA is not the only game publisher interested in integrating biometric technology. Konami and Scientific Games, a gambling service provider, are pegged to bring facial recognition software with the promise of delivering more data on players than operators have ever had access to. Konami, here, believes that such technology could boost responsible gaming efforts as long as consumer protection rights are adhered.
Using biometrics to alter game content is only one part of EA on the road to an unsettling future. The publisher also has a patent for a system that devalues virtual items based on the number of purchases made. Hence, creating an artificial sense of urgency in players to spend as soon as possible to gain the maximum benefits.
Interestingly, both patents (relating to item-devaluation and player-biometrics) were obtained through an asset acquisition, not directly. Kabam, a mobile publisher which split into Aftershock Services before being acquired by FoxNext Games a couple of years back looks to be the main party that got the ball rolling.