We’ve seen a fair number of patents granted to Sony Interactive Entertainment over time, which mostly pertains to console features. Now, the company has one that’s more for the spectator side of things. Which, on one hand, can be great for better interactivity between player and spectator. But on the other, it can also be easily abused, even by the least creative among people with ill intentions.
The Sony patent is titled “Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game”. The idea is simple, and geared towards the streamer and esports side of the industry. Using Twitch as an example, the patent describes giving access to a special menu to spectators of livestreamed games. From this menu, spectators have options to remove or keep players in a game, warn the player to improve or provide a custom message.
As the Sony patent describes, benching only occurs if voting goes past a certain threshold, which the patent uses 60% as an example. There will also be a weighting system, with more skilled spectators’ votes being worth more than the average viewer. Beyond just voting, spectators can outright pay to remove a player, be it by using real money, in-game currency, or even cryptocurrency.
In a limited scale, this could probably work in an esports setting, assuming that the only spectators with that kind of power are the team managers. But that would also be redundant as such individuals can simply talk to the player involved and convey the message in more traditional ways.
It’s also easy to see where things can go wrong if this ability is granted to the wider audience of an esports event. Trolls come immediately to mind, as well as a team paying large numbers of viewers to have a top player in the opposing team removed. It’s no better in the casual Twitch streaming scene either.
All in all, this Sony patent is one of those that hopefully remain as a patent, and not make its way to the real world. It really doesn’t feel like the potential benefits outweigh the enormous risk.