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Activision wants to spy on you, and it’s actually kind of cool

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Activision, the publisher behind games ranging from Spyro the Dragon to Call of Duty to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, is seeking patents that will let it spy on gamers.

Before Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard was made official, the gaming publisher filed a patent. The contents of that patent were recently revealed and have been a cause of concern for fans of Activision and non-fans alike. This is because the patent discusses collecting data on the livestreams fans watch, and then utilizing that to steer players into playing its titles.

This goes a step further by actually playing a role in the game itself. The concept could be revolutionary, but many are skeptical of Activision and Microsoft.

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What does the new Activision patent want to do?

The new Activision patent wants to collect data on people’s streaming habits in order to recommend and generate games.

The purpose of collecting streaming data from players is for Activision to mobilize in and around its games. This includes the ability to seamlessly switch between livestreams and games, then affect the game state based on what’s happening on the stream. Details on how, exactly, this would work are vague but there are some practical examples that can be theorized. For example:

  1. You’re watching a streamer play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  2. The stream prompts you to play Sekiro
  3. The streamer begins a boss rush in Sekiro
  4. Sekiro prompts you to join the streamer in playing boss rush mode
  5. The feature allows you to “race” the streamer to beat the boss

Activision Blizzard has an enormous portfolio of games, and it’s easy to imagine use cases for this patent idea in everything from Diablo 4 to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The power of Twitch has been seen many times over with titles like Fall Guys and Among Us, and more directly integrating games into that experience could fundamentally change how video games are marketed.

This patent is far from the first time where streaming services have been directly integrated with a game. Roguelike hack-and-slash Cult of the Lamb allowed streamers to have viewers help them and join their cults, while various adventure games have let streamers hand the decision-making to their chat. The streaming service prompting users to boot up or purchase the game takes this a step further by actively monitoring viewers’ content consumption and attempting to lure them into the game.

The concept is interesting but there is a wariness regarding the idea. Many are resistant to the idea of having advertisements delivered in new ways and having even less privacy regarding what they do on social media. The concept is now in Microsoft’s hands, and the company is casting a wide net in terms of its future gaming plans.

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Written by Hannan Mundia

Hannan Mundia has been playing video games since he was just three years old. He loves everything about gaming, from RPGs to first-person shooters. He has sunk countless hours into Bethesda's popular RPGs, but his favorite game remains Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.

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