A hot potato: There's a lot of toxicity surrounding eSports, so what does Sony do? Put forward a patent that allows spectators of live-streamed games to vote or pay to remove players. Additionally, viewers can send custom messages to those taking part, warning them to improve.
The patent, first filed by Sony back in 2020, was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office this week. Titled 'Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game,' it specifically mentions Twitch as a platform that could use the tool.
The patent would use a menu system where viewers could vote to remove players. A 60% threshold would need to be reached before a player was benched, and more skilled viewers' votes would carry more weight than others. These skill levels would be based on someone's statistics, time played, or accomplishments in the game.
If your skill levels aren't high enough, there's always the option of paying money, either using real cash, in-game coins, or crypto, to have a player removed, which doesn't sound like the best idea, especially as players would have no veto power over the decision to be removed and could end up reassigned to a totally different match. The pay-to-boot option does seem at odds with Sony's claim that the system is there to remove problematic players.
A lot of this may sound concerning, but here's the kicker: spectators will also be able to use the system to warn players directly to improve, which doubtlessly wouldn't be used to target people for reasons other than their gaming abilities.
This patent is Sony's latest push into the lucrative eSports business this year, following the acquisition of the Evolution Championship Series and the filing of an online tournament patent.
As with all patents, there are no guarantees this one will ever become a reality—Sony may have registered it to stop anyone else coming up with a similar system. Given the problems Twitch already deals with, none of this sounds like a particularly good idea.