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Sony Patent Lets Viewers Vote To Remove Players From Livestreams And eSport Events

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In 2020, Sony filed a patent designed to allow players and spectators to remove players from a game. The other day, the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved said patent, which is available to view here. Besides simply removing unskilled players from a match, if implemented this system will also allow spectators to pay for the privilege of removing a player.

This is not the first move that Sony has made into the market of live streaming, or esports in recent years either. Sony had filed another patent earlier this year for an online tournament, as well purchased the popular fighting game tournament EVO. With this new patent factored in on top of that, it is clear that Sony is taking competitive gaming more seriously than it had in the past.

This patent, which effectively allows the benching of players either through consensus or payment, does not mean we will see it implemented in the near future. This does however give Sony the exclusive ability to implement this mechanic in the way they specified on the patent should they wish to.

In this patent, it is outlined that spectators of a Livestream have the ability to remove a player from an ongoing match. That player has no veto power in this decision and may be reassigned to a different match after being removed. Through some form of “the cloud gaming system,” the player in question would have their information such as statistics for the game, such as time played, ratings, and achievements displayed so that the spectators have the informed ability to vote.

The avoid this system being abused it will require a three-fifths supermajority of 60 percent of the spectators to vote to remove that specific player. It will also take into account the stats of other players, giving players with higher statistics for the game more weight with their vote. Sony states that this system would be beneficial to remove players who are disrespectful or simply “griefers”. Despite that, it also lists out a system in which a spectator can ‘pay’ a fixed amount of money or bid for the ability to remove a player, which feels like it might lead to a new form of griefing…

Another feature that spectators will have is the ability to warn a player to improve their gameplay, lest they voted on for removal. I can understand the concept outlined in this patent, but as it stands now there is no way a system like this could functionally work.  Putting this much power into the hands of people on the internet has almost never ended well in the past and the truth here is while the patent outlines the system itself, it really does little to outline how they will safeguard it in a way that makes it run appropriately and not in a way that gives power to innate biases.

Of course, as stated above this is not something that NEEDS to be implemented now that Sony has the patent. Sony stated this was “enhance functionality and interactivity for players,” which would be great if there wasn’t a way to circumvent that with real currency.

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