While Sony’s always been one of the biggest names in gaming, thanks in no small part to the PlayStation, it only recently started getting heavily into esports. The Tokyo-based company purchased Evo, the largest fighting game festival in the world, earlier this year. A patent it filed last year that would allow for more immediate engagement between esports stream viewers and competitors has been approved. And it’s… interesting.
Not really a pro-gamer move, Sony
The patent, in a nutshell, regards a system by which spectators can remove players from games at will, either kicking simply kicking them out or throwing them into another game. The system works on a voting basis, requiring a 60% voting threshold to take effect according to Kotaku. Spectators can also apparently pay to remove players sans-vote. We’re starting to see some red flags here.
Competitive players will have their stats put up to assist the system, presumably so that spectators can use the voting system to curate matches between players of similar skill levels, thus making them more interesting to watch. In the same vein, spectators with higher skill levels’ votes will count more than those ranked lower than them.
Sony believes the system is intended to ban “griefers” from matches, players who are there simply to ruin their opponents’ games, waste time or just generally ruin the experience for all. If we suspended our disbelief, we can almost see where the company’s coming from here.
On paper, it sounds a little confusing. We’re sure it would make a lot more sense if we saw it in person, but we really hope we don’t. It’s a system begging toxic online communities to abuse it, and organised and targeted toxicity, particularly within the streaming sphere, isn’t uncommon. Just look at Twitch’s recent ‘Hate Raid’ problems. And as much as it’s been floated in under the guise of community interaction, it looks suspiciously like just another way for a big company to line its pockets.
Fortunately, just because Sony has the patent doesn’t mean it’ll use it. It just means no one else can. Silver linings, we suppose. Fingers crossed this never sees the light of day.