The publisher has updated its rights to a patent it filed in 2016, meaning Electronic Arts continues to own DDA (dynamic difficulty adjustment).
A big chunk of the media has described the patent as something new, including VG247, who had to explain to the readers that the updated patent’s contents haven’t been changed at all. The „use cases of DDA described in our patents and patent applications are merely examples; they are not indicative of EA’s plans or intentions for that technology,” the publisher wrote, adding that they have a statement, where they claimed that Electronic Arts has never used DDA in FIFA, Madden or NHL, and they never will.
The patent itself was filed in October 2020, but it was published in the final days of March 2021. The DDA’s system was built to „perform automatic granular difficulty adjustment,” which would be „undetectable by a user.” The company wants to predict habits and modify in-game challenges to keep the players engaged, and going by our previous activity, they can „generate a game retention prediction model that predicts an indication of an expected duration of gameplay. Based on the determined expected duration of gameplay, the difficulty level of the video game may be automatically adjusted,” quoting the patent. So if you get stuck on a boss, the game can tone its difficulty down.
This sounds similar to what the AI Director was in Left 4 Dead. „Often, games that are too difficult or too easy will result in less enjoyment for a user. Consequently, the user is likely to play the game less. Thus, one of the challenges of game development is to design a game with a difficulty level that is most likely to keep a user engaged for a longer period,” the patent adds.
But seeing how we are talking about Electronic Arts, it seems plausible that they want the longer engagement to turn into more spending on top of the price of the game, which is often sixty dollars.