TL;DR1: Riot appears to be trying to patent a “good behavior” island instead of a prisoner island, based on activity at the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) today (June 18, 2020).
TL;DR2: Riot may or may not already be implementing such a system, or good behavior (honor) may already be a factor in matchmaking; without them telling us, we do not know.
TL;DR3: We know that honorable players can be toxic too, but at least this system would have a minimum level of decorum to it based on player honor across the teams.
Patent attorney that has played LoL from season 1 here. This is a reply I wrote in another thread (https://www.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/hauccf/league_becomes_awful_to_play_when_you_have_to_pay/), but wanted to post it here for visibility. Today, Riot (through their patent attorneys) has filed a response to a USPTO rejection where they have amended their claims to claim what essentially appears to be a matchmaking system based in part on "good behavior" such as honor.
The document linked there by u/Fitspire was an international patent application, not a patent. International patent applications are sort of used as placeholders, opportunities to figure out if what an inventor has is good enough to get a patent, and buy time; all not relevant here. The relevant equivalent US patent application, application number 15/706,551, can be seen here: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180126281A1/en?oq=13%2f551338, which has not yet been granted.
A patent application must undergo an examination process in order to become a granted patent that then can be asserted against others to make them stop doing what the patent is trying to protect. What a patent is trying to protect is defined in the "claims" of the application.
In the first instance, this application is trying to claim, in relevant part: "a user matching system coupled to the online game session server system and the user profile database and configured to match users for a game session, wherein the user matching system is configured to match the first user with another user based at least in part on the behavioral data in the first user's profile."
In other words, Riot is trying to patent matchmaking based, at least partially, on player behavior. However, this was at first instance of the application; now that the application is being examined, this claim will be changed and amended until it overcomes “prior art” (what has been done before by others, usually other patent application publications or granted patents) such that the claims can be novel/new and non-obvious (what Riot is trying to protect must not be what others do, and it also cannot be an obvious alteration of what others do).
If you want to read more about it, you can go to https://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair and then enter the application number 15/706,551, then click "Image File Wrapper", then click the check boxes on the right hand side of the screen under PDF, like the box next to "Amendment Copy Claims/Response to Suggested Claims" and "Applicant Arguments/Remarks Made in an Amendment".
To summarize the relevant actions of Riot’s patent attorney today in response to a rejection made by the USPTO, the main claim has been amended to state that:
(1) “storing, for each player of the plurality of players, a plurality of commendations, each commendation of the plurality of commendations being defined by one player of the plurality of players into behavior data of the player and identifying one of a plurality of pre-defined personality categories;”
(2) “calculating, for each player of the plurality of players, a category score for each personality category of the plurality of pre-defined personality categories based on a number of times the personality category is identified in the behavior data of the player; and”
(3) “matching a first player of the plurality of players with at least a second player of the plurality of players for a real-time interactive game session based at least in part on the calculated category scores for both the first player and the second player.”
A notable dependent claim states that (4) “wherein the first player is matched as an opponent against the second player for the real-time interactive game session.”
This all means that: (1) there is a database that stores “commendations”, which may be best identified as post game “honor a teammate” now (but the application describes commendations where you can report a player for good behavior and not just bad behavior like things are now, so there are some differences here). (2) A category score for your commendation categories is calculated based on how many times you have been commended. (3) You are matched with another player in the game at least in part on the calculated category scores of your commendations. That is, at least a tiny bit of your commendations are factored into matchmaking (but also your commendations could be a large factor in matchmaking). (4) Who you are matched with can be your opponents.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of claim language, what this looks like is that Riot is trying to patent a “good behavior island” where honorable people are matched with honorable people, as opposed to DotA2’s prisoner island system. Although the Examiner for this application has stated that these amendments appear to look like they overcome the prior art (i.e., good enough to be granted a patent because they are not obvious compared to the cited prior art), we’ll see in time whether Riot gets granted this patent. If they do, they can stop other companies/people from matchmaking through this "good behavior" island system.
Why does this matter and how does this affect us as players? Well, that’s a tough question. Methods disclosed in a patent application can already be in use (or not) by Riot, but without Riot specifically telling us specifically how matchmaking is done, we will not know. Also, what is in the game now is a bit different to what is disclosed in this patent application (which has priority from a patent application filed back in 2012), so there is not an exact same correlation to what is described here. What it sounds, however, like is as described above, a “good behavior” island matchmaking system based on honor you receive post ranked game. Furthermore, we all know that sometimes honorable players can be toxic, so what good would a system like this do exactly? Well, at least this system, if implemented, would ensure a minimum level of honor across teams.
Interesting other tidbits:
The two cited prior art references are (1) https://patents.google.com/patent/US20060121990A1/en?oq=2006%2f0121990 (Microsoft owned, not sure what big games are out there owned by Microsoft) and (2) https://patents.google.com/patent/US20090271212A1/en?oq=2009%2f0271212 (City 17, LLC owned; can’t find much about them, also Half-Life reference?).
Also, Riot has patented the functionality of what was previously the Tribunal, in other patents: (1) https://patents.google.com/patent/US9795887B2/en?oq=13%2f551338 and (2) https://patents.google.com/patent/US9120019B2/en?oq=2013%2f0252737. There are more based off the (2), but I don’t have time to check them now (but can later if people are interested!).
Happy to answer questions if anyone has them and will clean this up if there is enough interest!
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