Sony Patents the Ability for Spectators to Pay to ‘Bench’ Players in Games They’re Watching

Sony has been granted a patent that would allow spectators on platforms like Twitch to vote or pay to “bench” players in a video game.

As reported by Eurogamer, this patent – which is titled “Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game” – would allow for viewers to vote or pay to have certain players removed from a game or to send custom messages that tell them they need to improve.

Image Credit: uspto.gov

These viewers would gain access to a menu that would include such options as “Remove Player from Game,” “Warn Player to Improve,” “Provide Custom Message,” or “Keep in Game.” A player, according to this patent, would only be removed if voting reaches a certain amount, like 60%, and there would be a weighting system that would put more impact on the vote of “a more skilled spectator.” This skill level would be determined by such factors as their game level, statistics, or accomplishments in the game they are watching.

The patent was filed due to the fact that as “more and more people have become interested in watching video games and esports events, game developers have sought to enhance the viewing experience by providing increased functionality and interactivity for spectators.”

Many aspects of this patent appear to be solely focused on negative actions and don’t appear to have a focus on positive actions like rewarding players that are doing well. However, it’s important to note that patents often take many shapes and forms before/if they ever make it to the public.

Sony’s filing of this patent could be part of its more focused approach to esports that was recently shown when it announced it was purchasing the Evolution Championship Series – the world’s largest fighting game tournament.

Unless there are a ton of safeguards, the potential harm this could cause could be problematic, especially when considering Twitch is still dealing with the fallout of the many hate raids that have been impacting countless streamers.


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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

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