EA is using dynamic difficulty adjustments in multiple games, wants to get rid of fair matchmaking

DSOGaming writes: "Back in October 2017, it was revealed that Activision is working on a new matchmaking system that would pair players together in order to encourage microtransactions. And while this system has not been implemented in any game as of yet, another publisher is searching into getting rid of fair matchmaking in multiplayer games. That publisher is no other than EA who has already implemented its dynamic difficulty adjustment in multiple games."

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XiNatsuDragnel339d ago

Oh hell naw no EA ACTIVISION GAMES EVER. im going to pirate these.

IGiveHugs2NakedWomen339d ago

And the truth is revealed. They've been plotting to scam gamers all along.

bouzebbal338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

worse and worse this company.
honestly gamers should boycott them just for a month.. a single month with 0 income (no EA game purchased, no game played online) and they will change for the better.

TankCrossing338d ago

Explain how adjusting the difficulty to keep players enjoying the game is a scam?

Taz X14338d ago

Adjusting difficulty to make a game more engaging, or to push you to better your understanding of the ins and outs of a game is totally acceptable. However, let’s be honest here, EA’s goal is not to push gamers to be better at a game, but to encourage players to buy micro transactions. Gamers are smart enough to see between the lies that they’re saying.

What they don’t understand is that gamers want to play something that challenges us, but they think that it’s the tools that make us better and not the skill. We want incentives to take on more difficult challenges in a game and not more in game adds attempting to persuade us to pay more.

All this boils down to is that they know gamers often ignore in game ads, so this is just another marketing scheme to market add-ons and micro transactions albeit subliminal rather than readily apparent. That’s what makes this all the more insulting...

TankCrossing338d ago

But making the game so challenging as to encourage micro-transactions would not increase player engagement, it would have an adverse effect. Therefore the stats given contradict your theory.

Player engagement obviously leads to greater player spending, no denying EA's motive. Making games enjoyable is surely the "correct" way to go about it though, no?

cooperdnizzle338d ago

@TankCrossing. I think the NBA should adjust the height of the rims according to the teams average height, that way everybody can play/dunk

RacerX338d ago

@tanmcrossing, when they filed the patent for this new matchmaking idea, it revolves around the idea that they would place a gamer in a room full of better players that have MT Content. This new player would get smashed, and thus be encouraged to purchase MT's. Once they purchase the MT, the gamer would then be routed to a room full of terrible players, to feel more godlike, and be encouraged to purchase MT's again in the future.

Christopher337d ago

***Explain how adjusting the difficulty to keep players enjoying the game is a scam?***

1. There is no proof that adjusting the difficulty to maintain a level of challenge actually keeps players enjoying the game. Having more 'engagement' doesn't mean that as it's an out of context figure. What is engagement, spending habits, hours played, achievements? Are there more people playing games now than before? How do you attribute the specific act of DDA to increased engagement?

2. If a player is always being challenged, it is affecting a few things.

First, you are constantly being put into a position where you are less likely to win. People play games to get better and to be able to win. How does constantly adjusting that level of difficulty without them knowing it allowing that to happen?

Second, how is a player able to know if they are being challenged or if their tactics have improved or if other factors have affected their game? Was it lag/ping/etc.? Did they go up against one really good player? Did that new technique they learn just not work and should they give up on it? With a constant revolving door of difficulty to match the player's recent actions, they are less capable of determining what works, what doesn't, or even figure out why they aren't working.

Third, this promotes a common issue in MMOs where only the top 1% truly excel while the rest are left with mixed results that they don't understand. In MMOs, though, that factor tends to come down to time. In online shooters and the like, that factor comes down to understanding your tier and where you stand. If there is no tier, only a constantly revolving door of difficulty adjustments, then you don't understand your place and you are constantly being told to run towards a finish line without an understanding of whether the system is rigged against you or not. This is why tiers exist in other games, to give people a bit of control over knowing that they will face like-skilled individuals.

3. As to how this will encourage microtransactions? Look at #2 and realize that all of that will lead people to trying to find ways to be placed at a position they once were at rather than to be challenged constantly and usually seen as losing more than they have in the past. Combine this with the promotion of lootboxes in EA games, such as seeing what killed you in SWBF2, to having the concept of lootboxes normalized by making them the leveling process in the economy of the game itself. If people are getting 'more challenged' than they like, they will either quit or find a way to reduce that challenge, and EA and most businesses know that that means a good percentage of people will try to pay some extra cash to improve the game rather than throw away the $60 they already spent on it.

4. EA controls the level of affect DDA has. Just like loot drop chances, this is yet another calculation that EA can adjust to encourage players to spend more money at will. Think about if a casino had a blackjack table, only the dealer could at any time adjust the chances of getting any card in a deck. This is what EA is able to do with lootboxes and what they are now able to do with DDA. Rather than keeping things equal, fair, and straight line, they instead use algorithms to challenge people rather than tiers, which are widely known and easily understood by the public. DDA does away with that and puts up a curtain between the users and the developers.

Taz X14337d ago

While I see your point, I think you might be taking this idea from a very naive point of view. Their idea of fair and balanced has been proven to be quite the opposite as shown by the slews of controversy they've faced in the past few years (this year especially). If their idea of balance is how they've treated loot boxes, and their idea of a finished product is Andromeda, then can you honestly sit back and say that they're to be the ones to utilize this system to truly benefit gamers' experiences. For nearly an entire decade, they've been involved in some form of controversy and each year it has gotten worse and worse (hopefully culminating in this past years' garbage fire). Gamers have just been burned too many times and way too often as of recent to not see what they're really trying to do.

Seriously take a look at this list and tell me they've got gamers' enjoyment as a top priority:
2008: Spore DRM controversy
Jim Brown Licensing controversy
2012: Mass Effect 3 Ending
2013: Battlefield 4 DLC
Sim City 2013
2014 Dungeon Keeper Mobile
2015: Star Wars Battlefront
Need for Speed: No Limits
2017: Mass Effect Andromeda
Need for Speed Payback
Star Wars Battlefront 2

And these are just those immediately apparent, as I'm sure there are a ton more...

ziggurcat337d ago

@Christopher: brilliantly said.

rezzah336d ago

Activision started it.

+ Show (7) more repliesLast reply 336d ago
Nybz338d ago Show
bow2yoda338d ago

@tankcrossing its psychology. if a player is forced to play with people that freely blow their money to be op... you are more likely to spend money to be able to compete.. you know.. pay to win

TankCrossing338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

But nothing here alludes to matchmaking with pay to win buyers. That's all Activision.

The EA stuff talks about increasing "player engagement", which is the best indicator they have for player enjoyment.

Chexs1990338d ago

@tankcrossing They also said that a 40 hour grind to unlock heroes in BF2 was to establish "a sense of pride and accomplishment"

It's essentially a system that defines your gaming experience based off of an algorithm, which means that you as a player, are getting told how to play.
Whether the intentions are MT's or not (but come on, it's EA), it's still derogatory to the gaming experience.
There's a reason why it's usually divided in difficulty levels.

bow2yoda338d ago

Tankcrossing.. the only thing that ea has been stubborn with is their micro transactions.. if any game proves that is battlefront 2 where they cried that gamers ruined progression because they had to remove micro transactions. pay attention my dude.

Markusb33337d ago

@tankcrossing you know we are talking about EA. You are giving way to much benefit of the doubt here. It's like asking a crocodile to look after your chickens and being surprised by the outcome. Ea don't learn as they are a multi million dollar company who think of customers as sheep. Easily fooled and manipulated not to mention having a very short memory.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 337d ago
franwex338d ago

Why not just simply stop playing them at all. Including pirating?

bow2yoda338d ago

because their corrupt thinking is deserving of piracy to the max.

338d ago
TheSaint337d ago

Don't even do that, they can claim more players are playing.

XiNatsuDragnel337d ago

Good point no pirating too ;)

rezzah336d ago

Pirate them? Drop them completely.

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UCForce339d ago

I freaking knew it. They didn’t give a damn about balancing.

TankCrossing339d ago (Edited 339d ago )

This article is horse manure. Calm your emotions and use that logic you claim you possess.

Dynamic difficulty scaling to keep a player engaged is just smart design. Not evil, not greedy. It is just intended to make the game difficulty scale to the player, so it doesn't feel too easy or too difficult, and remains fun.

EA's own results proclaim increased player engagement "with a neutral impact on monetization."

UCForce338d ago

I’m not calming down. This is just like Activision did with Destiny 2. Here the freaking thing, EA isn’t allow Dice to talk with their fans.

TankCrossing338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

But nothing in the article alludes to micro-transactions or anything remotely unethical. It talks about 2 ideas to improve player engagement by making the experience and challenge level more fun.

Think of it like the AI in DriveClub. They automatically adapt to the ability of the player, so that everyone experiences a busy, competitive race instead of shooting ahead or falling behind. The first concept is basically that, but more sophisticated.

Most multiplayer matchmaking effectively follows the same principle of adaptive difficulty, attempting to find opponents of your skill level. There are definitely pros and cons to that, and EA are trying to improve it. There is absolutely no mention of a system to encourage purchasing store items as per the Activision design.

Of course when you increase engagement then you do increase the chance people will spend. Making better, more fun games is exactly how we want publishers to approach it, isn't it?

-Foxtrot338d ago

"Calm your emotions"

Oh here we go...the typical "it's no big deal" excuse

Only in 2-4 years we see them slowly adding more anti consumer shit and people like you pretty much defended it by telling people to "calm down" or "shut up...stop whinging"

People complain at something small because we know by now how it'll just snowball into a bigger thing. If you don't put your foot down now God knows what will happen.

sprinterboy338d ago

I neither agree or disagree 😊

Rare338d ago

Offline single player focused games, fine, but to do this to online 'competitive' modes is absolutely disgusting..

Some people put lots of time and effort into learning all the nuances to a game so they can have a competitive edge over the competition, only to have that edge ruined for the pursuit of appeasing the consumer & as a result earning more profit..

If you are for this, you're probably one of the cognitively impaired consumer gamers that EA targets with these pathetic algorithms, so that you continue to mindlessly purchase each new inerattion.. SAD!

Forn338d ago

They're speaking about multi-player matchmaking. Pitting low skill, no MT players against higher skilled, paid MT players.

CorndogBurglar338d ago

Maybe I'm stupid, but what exactly does "player engagement" even mean? Sounds kind of vague.

And if they haven't implemented this already, as they claim, then how can they have accurate numbers to support this?

MetroidFREAK21338d ago

Man, get the hell out of here... You sicken me as a gamer, and as a person who is trying to defend this... What's wrong with you?

Omnisonne338d ago

I don't know about you, but I don't like the concept of becoming better as a player, and getting essentially penalized by being used as a balancing card (i.e you're expected to carry a team) Which is what a system like this also tends to do.

I'd much prefer the way it worked with older games before all this matchmaking crap came into play (never been a fan of it for multiple reasons). Where you would be thrown into the fire and got wrecked until you adapted and improved your skill. Then after gaining enough skill you would in turn dominate the games yourself. It felt alot more natural and you could gauge your own growth as a player much clearer.

Anyway, personal preference and all that. Probably because I grew up without matchmaking in place.

DragonKnight338d ago

@TankCrossing: Yeah, that's not how it works. Dynamic Difficulty essentially chooses when you succeed and when you fail to maximize engagement. It's in early stages, but it is definitely meant to prioritize monetization. If you play a game with DD and you consistently lose to better players, or players with better gear, then the algorithm will match you with lower skilled players (thereby hindering your ability to improve and creating a false sense of improvement), or players with lower level gear.

If you consistently win to worse players, it will match you with better players or players with better gear until you lose a lot and the process reverses. It's all encouraged to make you want to have the better equipment. It has nothing to do with player engagement because player engagement is largely based on game quality, not success at the game. With some exceptions.

This system is a terrible idea and just further proves that EA is not in the business of making games. EA is in the business of milking gamers.

jrshankill338d ago

I also like how absolutely nobody bothered to read the article.

"EA concluded that it has successfully developed a system that applies this technique in multiple games and has observed up to 9% improvement in player engagement with a neutral impact on monetization."


The author then goes on with lines like:
"IMAGINE if such mechanics appeared in games like Dark Souls or Nioh."
"A lot of players CLAIMED in the past that the game was deliberately upping the difficulty"

I thought this rumor mongering was against N4G rules? There is nothing substantial here at all

SunnyZ338d ago

You do know EA patented a procedure to match weaker players against harder players who have better items gathered from 'scam boxes' in order to make the weaker player think 'hey I should also buy some scam boxes to get better items' so I can compete.

This is FACT

EA are the worst...

DragonKnight338d ago

SunnyZ: That was Activision, not EA. Easy to confuse the two though since both are trying to 1up each other in scummy behaviour.

DJStotty338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

so you can purposefully play "badly" on a game/multiplayer and the game adjusts to make it "easier" and then you suddenly play awesome as soon as it adjusts is smart design?

I call it closing the skill gap/noob advantage, so it doesnt matter if you are good/bad at a game anymore. And how would this affect Esport tournaments?

And Tank, that is why there is an option in the majority of games that is called a difficulty level.

Palitera338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

"I’m not calming down. This is just like Activision did with Destiny 2. Here the freaking thing, EA isn’t allow Dice to talk with their fans"

As if Dice was innocent. FFS, the reason they don't let the other guilty company speak is to fool "Dice are saints" people like you.

Good cop, bad cop.

And you fall for it like a child.

TankCrossing338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

To be clear, dynamic difficulty is for single player games, and already implemented. I've seen it first hand watching my 2 boys play FIFA 17 (yes, last year's game). They can both beat he AI, and it is fun for them.

Multiplayer _already_ behaves in the way you lot are bitching about. That's skill based matchmaking in a nutshell, and it has flaws. Principally it casts a shadow over real player progression, because getting better just earns you better opponents, keeping you perpetually average. EA are quite non-specific on how they aim to improve it, but the stated goal is to increase player engagement and not player spending.

"Player engagement" is tantamount to "fun". You can't directly measure enjoyment, but you can measure how much people play and there is an obvious correlation between the two.

Obviously player engagement is an important metric if you want to increase player spending. But making games more fun in order to make more money is not a sinister ambition.

If you just bitch about everything, nothing you say matters. In this case you are literally bitching about EA trying to make games fun. It's ridiculous.

UnHoly_One338d ago

My god, you people need to lose the tinfoil hats and take a reading class.

You're all ranting and raving about completely made up problems that are not discussed anywhere in that article.

Jesus Christ it's embarrassing to be a gamer nowadays.

GHOSTxTZ338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

@TankCrossing Do you work for EA? Lol

bow2yoda338d ago

do you work for ea? your thinking is skewed at best. EA has been one of the worlds worst and corrupt companys for decades. they do not care about fun to play games. they only care about pay to win... and if you still think that ea is in touch with their fan bases... there is this.

I for one still love playing a single player game like dead space!!!! they are in for a cash grab at the expense of a fun experience. in essence they are trying to turn main stream gaming into the same thing as mobile where people just throw troves of money for NOTHING

RacerX338d ago

@tankcrossing.... EA employee.

RememberThe357337d ago

Hey! We have an EA employee in our midst, welcome sir. Too bad most of us aren't buying this crap. We'll stop expecting the worst from EA when they stop f#cking with us.

AdonisIsBeast337d ago


There’s no need to manipulate the point of what their doing by stating it in the way in which you are. Why dotyou think they don’t then “choose” to matchmake by players in your overall league of competitiveness. And as the player improves and gets better it can then slowly upregulate the difficulty to match them with better players. Instead of the excuse you keep giving which is to place them in somw matches that they will be completely dominated in and in other matches where they’ll win with ease?

Septic337d ago

Holy shit no one actually read the article and the pitchforks are out. Amazing...

Retroman337d ago (Edited 337d ago )

Either you Dumb as hell ,or can't Comprehend what gamers telling you or you work for Ea .

everyone telling you Ea is LYING about " player engagement " Its a trap to make more Money , but you Refuse to Comprehend this why? ????

I don't play Military games or games with MT i understand the issue clearly .
Pay to win take the fun out of winning the Challenge . its also CHEATING !!!!!
if you can't Comprehend that i have "the Statute of Liberty" for sell.

+ Show (21) more repliesLast reply 337d ago
Aenea338d ago

"I’m not calming down. This is just like Activision did with Destiny 2."

So Destiny 2 has a matchmaking system where it 'handicaps' people when they are the better player?

Because that's what this sounds like! Just like a 'golf handicap' to make sure people with different proficiencies can play together...

bow2yoda338d ago

the idea in the new match making systems isnt to make it more challenging. it is about using actual psychology to make players spend more money... because when you cannot get any better because everyone that they are playing with are throwing their money into the air for crates to be op, forces players to pay up to be competitive. its not bull crap its manipulation of the human mind to get what you want.

TankCrossing338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

I don't take it as handicapping. More likely it just ensures that every now and again you get a match you can win. Subtle matchmaking tweaks that players probably wouldn't even notice if not for reading about it.

Kinda like the "bad luck protection" you get in WoW to keep the RNG from being overly frustrating. This is "lose streak protection", because winning occassionally makes people feel good and keep playing.

That's purely speculation on my part though.

Aenea337d ago


It would make the frustration less when it's 90% of the time that you lose, but it would be better if every match is exciting for all parties and a close call!

If they can pull something like that off in an online multiplayer game I would love that! Heck, publishers would love that too since it will mean that online games are open to people of any experience level which in turn means more sales, more DLC sold, more season passes, and of course, yes, the inevitable more cosmetic items sold through MT's...

It would also mean people can enjoy gaming much longer in life when reaction speeds decrease...

gangsta_red338d ago


You do realize EA has only done this for SP games right? That this technique is used to make SP games harder or easier based on how the player plays the game.

They have yet to put this fair matchmaking in any of the MP games, so this is literally a "dont worry" moment that you seem to be taking to heart.

This article is throwing out nothing but what if's and could be's and not actually saying anything as facts. No need to fly off the handle and start burning down the house of EA.

TankCrossing338d ago

Oh you can burn down the house of EA. Just try to use one of the many legitimate reasons available.

2pacalypsenow339d ago (Edited 339d ago )

That would explain why sometimes I can defeat a 3 star team in single player seasons, then get destroyed by a 2 star team.

Playing is Ultimate difficulty, the CPU is rigged as hell, teams that have all bronze players play like Barcelona, and my overall 88 UT plays like shit.

Berenwulf338d ago

It also explains all these late minute goals from the CPU. You literally can't defend these attacks, it's like they are getting a boost and you can't keep up with them.

2pacalypsenow338d ago

Exactly! I"m so glad I'm not the only one seeing this.

The CPU all of a sudden get a stamina boost and know exactly where I'm passing the ball and steal it.

338d ago
outsider1624337d ago

Holy crap! You too? And not only that, i feel that the transfer system is rigged as hell too.

Relientk77339d ago

This BS. Just another reason why I mainly play single player games

TankCrossing339d ago (Edited 339d ago )

This dynamic difficulty scaling applies very specifically to single player games. It's also not actually a bad thing at all.

InTheZoneAC338d ago

Do rubberbanding wasn't already bad enough?

rdgneoz3338d ago

"It's also not actually a bad thing at all."

And it used to be basically called rubber banding AI. You'd be ahead in a race with a huge lead and suddenly the guys behind you are flying right by you, who have shit cars. Everyone loves losing to a trash team when they have a huge lead. Not a bad thing at all...

DragonKnight338d ago

It is a bad thing. It doesn't encourage you to improve yourself, but it does encourage you to open your wallet.

SunnyZ338d ago

Normally, yes, its not a bad thing.
When EA gets a hold of it....
Hold their beer...

Chaos_Order338d ago

I personally disagree. Outside of rubber banding in racing games (which has always been BS) it can rob players of the true challenging experience simply for being cautious, experimenting different approaches, or restarting an area multiple so they can attempt a perfect run without using healing items etc. I would personally be infuriated way more if a game made things easy for me just because of my playstyle rather than dying on a difficult section over and over until I get it right.

TankCrossing338d ago (Edited 338d ago )

@rdg racing is a very simplistic example, but nobody likes overtaking the pack on lap one and then not seeing a car for the whole race either.

Now think of a narrative game. Nobody wants it to be too easy, but nobody wants it to be so hard they can't finish it. Selectable difficulties is a fairly rudimentary way to allow the player to tune the difficulty, but if the game can adapt automatically to provide the "right" and "fun" level of progress and challenge for the individual, that's good.

@DK did you keep playing TLOU to improve yourself as a person, or to enjoy the game and see the story through? If publishers want to encourage me to open my wallet by making games fun... That's not so bad.

Adaptable difficulties don't need to apply to every game, but it's not some evil concept. If EA were adjusting the difficulty to ensure it was always slightly too tough so that you buy extra health potions that would be a whole different story, but they're not. They're pushing player engagement.

@Sunny, indeed. adaptive "too hard" difficulty with pay-per-health potion coming right up.

Liqu1d338d ago

They specifically state in the paper that Engagement Optimized Matchmaking (EOMM) can be adjusted to focus on "other core game metrics of interest, such as play time, retention, or spending.' Why are you spreading misinformation and acting like dynamic difficulty is the only topic?

DragonKnight338d ago

@TankCrossing: Your analogy sucks. TLOU is A) Not an EA property, B) Does not have Dynamic Difficulty, and C) Would suffer if DD was implemented. If the only way you can think a game is fun is through unchallenged progression, you need to stop gaming because all you're looking for is emotional validation. DD is encouraging you to open your wallet to MTs, not "fun games" being developed.

EA is not pushing player engagement. DD's relation to player engagement is tangential at best as people will discover, and have a problem with, a game's inconsistent difficulty. Hell, people have complained about that LONG before DD was even a thing. Rubber banding, difficulty spikes, etc.. have all been around for a very long time and people don't like them.

This system only benefits casual gamers, whales, and EA. It doesn't benefit the game, it doesn't benefit core games who invest more into the industry over longer periods of time, and it doesn't benefit the industry because we've seen how little publishers like EA care about putting out good games and instead care more about putting out better monetization schemes.