Sony patents new system that allows spectators to "bench" competitors in a game

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,
Sony Interactive Entertainment has filed a patent that will allow "Spectators [to] vote to bench players in a video game." If implemented, this would allow spectators to essentially ban toxic players from a game that is being watched by viewers if enough votes are accumulated.

Segment Next caught the application over the weekend, but PlayStation Universe brought it to our attention. Remember, patents are not reality — they are all about the intention to make something. Steven Osman and Katrine Chow filed the patent, both of which have been long-time R&D members in the Sony ecosystem.

The patent acknowledges that spectated games and esports are getting "increased functionality and interactivity for spectators." As the new owner of the EVO fighting game contest and as the owner of the PlayStation platform that hosts streamers of such games, the Japanese company might be making moves to allow spectators to ban players.

The general crux of this patent is that Sony has filed a patent that would build an interface that allows spectators to ban or bench players that are either toxic — "poor performance in the game [...] or bad behaviour" — or simply because they don't like that particular player. In Fig. 2 and as detailed in several smaller sections, Sony might want to put in place a messaging system so spectators can send warnings to improve or custom messages to players that might be banned and save players from a ban whom they might like. A ban could be temporary or permanent, indicating that to "bench" a player is akin to a substitution in a football match, whereas a ban is a straight removal.

In Fig. 4, the company details a payment scheme that players could use to ban players. Spectators could either pay a fixed price, a percentage of a fixed price, or bid in an auction. This is an interesting aspect that feels less akin to the previous voting methods and more akin to paying for the matchups the spectators want to see by banning those they don't want. It would be fascinating to see how this works in a 1v1 fighting tournament like EVO.

Sony also patented a betting system, so it does appear the company is serious about how it will monetise the competitive streaming space. Seeing which patents make it to market will be a fascinating watch.

How do you feel about this? Is this an interesting way to organise a stream? Or is it a recipe for further toxicity? Let us know in the comments!
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Hey, I'm Kes! I'm a Staff Writer, and I've been here since 2021. What do I like? The Outer Wilds is top notch. The Witcher 3 blew my mind over the course of five years completing it. I want Burnout back — I really miss crunching mechanical wonders into walls to the sound of Guns N' Roses. Cool, now we are acquainted, I'll see you around.