New EA patent aims to adjust how difficult a game is while you’re playing it

Difficulty is a hot topic these days. For some of us out there – playing games at the hardest difficulty is worn like a badge of honour. Some developers (I’m looking at you From Software) basically outright refuse to add a difficulty slider believing it would affect the integrity of the game they set out to create. However, on the other side of the coin (and probably the side where I sit more comfortably in), many feel that adjustable difficulties should be a standard accessibility feature; advocating that the greater the variety of variation in difficulty settings the better.

Whichever side of the fence you’re on – difficulty is an essential feature of game design. Providing the ‘perfect’ level of difficulty will keep players engaged in a game for longer and make the whole experience more enjoyable. Get this wrong (in either direction) and you’ll either have players dropping out because of pure boredom or wild-eyed frustration. And it seems adjusting difficulty ‘on-the-fly’ based on each player’s individual experience is something EA is very interested in if a recent patent is anything to go by…

As covered by Matt Purslow (writing for IGN), a patent filed by Electronic Arts that recently came to light, indicates that the video game company’s proposed new tech will not only be able to adjust on the go based on the player but also create ‘a game retention model’ based on the gameplay – enabling them to predict how long you’ll likely play and ultimately seemingly be able to adjust that difficulty to keep you playing for longer. On the positive side of things – it would be great to play a game that feels like it’s made for your specific skillset. However, as pointed out by Purslow, the tech seems to be specifically designed to benefit the developer – and with that being the case you can’t help but feel a little worried about how it will be implemented. The article is worth reading so please go ahead and check it out – and while it may all sound a little scary let’s remember that it’s just a patent at this stage.

Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

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