Does Call of Duty give you easier lobbies if you spend money? Patent sparks pay-to-win claims

cod warzone 2 pay to winActivision

A patent filed by Activision from 2019 has caught the eye of CoD players again, who claim that spending money on microtransactions triggers a change in matchmaking, to give you easier opponents. But is it true – is Call of Duty and Warzone pay-to-win, giving you “bot lobbies” if you spend money?

Back in 2019, an Activision patent caught the CoD community’s eye. The patent was large and discussed many aspects of a multiplayer matchmaking system, but the most controversial point was related to in-game purchases.

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The patent states, “Conventional systems further fail to leverage matchmaking processes in other contexts, such as influencing game-related purchases.” It was immediately theorized that SBMM (skill-based matchmaking) could be impacted by a player’s in-game purchases.

In 2023, the patent is being discussed once again, as players are convinced that after buying cosmetics, they are placed in lobbies against weaker players in Warzone.

Is Warzone SBMM affected by spending money?

This same issue was actually raised in 2021 too. Based on the patent, the assumption is that if a lower-skilled player gets killed by a skin for a weapon, especially a weapon they use, they may be motivated to buy that skin themselves.

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However, Activision has previously denied this, stating that although this system had been patented, it had never been used in-game.

Despite this, some are absolutely convinced this system is in place in Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare II.

Call of Duty YouTuber strahfe tweeted on May 31, “If you were ever wondering why you get bot lobbies after purchasing a new skin / cosmetic… Patented by Activision btw.”

Although, strahfe did add, “This is all not 100% proof that these systems are actively being used within Call of Duty. More so that they exist under Activision and align with claims of many players and creators including myself.”

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KRNG member and TikToker WHOH, however, was more adamant, claiming that he could prove the system was being used.

After buying a skin and hitting an impressive sniping clip, he proclaimed, “I think it’s safe to say, this clearly works.”

But, this is obviously just one example, far from enough evidence to confirm this patented SBMM system is actually being used in Warzone or multiplayer.

Due to the nature of matchmaking systems, and to avoid bad actors attempting to exploit them, it’s very uncommon for any game developer to go into specifics about how it works. Else, players would be able to deliberately counter the methods that the system is using.

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So, for now, it remains undetermined whether in-game purchases have any impact whatsoever on your matchmaking experience or SBMM, and it’s likely to stay unconfirmed forever.