A patent filed by Electronic Arts is apparently intending to make the online matchmaking experience easier for players. The patent intends to add in bot players by default when one team cannot find enough players. According to the EA bot matchmaking patent, the system will operate in a way similar to this:
“The matchmaking, as disclosed herein, may utilize simulated players to compensate for the unavailability of suitable human opponents or teammates.”
According to the patent’s abstract, this would be accomplished by the system analyzing a player’s playstyle, then creating a simulated player with a similar style and skill in order to provide a challenging, effective teammate or opponent to fill a gap in online matchmaking teams. The patent also makes mention of several reasons why this might be necessary:
“For online games, a suitable opponent or teammate for a player attempting to matchmake may not be available due to, for example, user location, latency or connection quality, time of day, player population, etc.”
Such issues can be very common in many online games, especially ones with a small but passionate playerbase who might only rarely ever get a full game. The EA bot matchmaking patent will hopefully address this in a competent manner, especially given the improvements in AI technology in video games over the years. The patent can also, as it says in its documentation, help in skill tiers.
“By enabling games with players of similar skill scores, and therefore relatively similar skill levels, a more enjoyable game may be achieved for the players than if there is a relatively high disparity in the skill scores and/or skill levels of players.”
While some players of matchmaking-focused games disapprove of skill-based matchmaking, the EA bot matchmaking patent is definitely building on that concept with bots in order to make it so that players at lower or higher skill levels can still have full games to play with teammates or enemies of similar skill.
Only time will tell when this sort of patent is implemented, but with how AI has been advancing in recent years, hopefully it will mark a big change in the popularity of bots. You can read the patent information for yourself by clicking this link.