As long as people have been gaming, other people have watched them. From kids gathered around arcade cabinets in the 1980s, to YouTube Let’s Plays, to the Twitch streams of today, many people like to watch games as well as play them.
Game companies generally, and understandably, tend to prioritize the former group over the latter. However, Sony hasn’t forgotten the importance of spectating in the gaming community. A recent patent filed by Sony aims to give spectators more options for viewing live gameplay.
The filing is just one of several recent Sony patents related to cloud gaming. In this case, the electronics giant wants to use cloud gaming technology to allow spectators to take control of the camera to observe gameplay from any angle. The system will also give them the ability to share gameplay footage captured from these custom views. On top of that, the patent describes a method of automatically changing camera angles for spectators that prefer a passive but still dynamic viewing experience.
Sony’s patent further describes how passive observers will have the option of either selecting from several available angles or allowing the system to create a dynamic playlist of multiple viewpoints. The patent also suggests allowing spectators to set preferences dictating the playlists. This includes but may not be limited to selecting whether they prefer the player’s camera view, active spectator’s camera views, or a combination of the two. Sony’s patent-pending system will also keep track of viewers’ preferences to improve its playlist suggestions through machine learning.
Games would generate an unlimited number of camera angles by continually rendering a fully 3D environment around the player instead of just what is on screen. While many games already do this, it often leads to performance issues and a much heavier load on the player’s hardware. However, the patent attempts to circumvent this problem by relying on cloud gaming systems such as Sony’s PlayStation Now. Games can render the complete environment without losing performance by offloading most of the heavy lifting to Sony’s central servers.
The latest filing is part of Sony’s and Microsoft’s ongoing race to dominate the emerging cloud gaming market. Both now offer streaming as part of their larger PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass subscription services. It’s too soon to see if either will be crowned king of video game streaming, though Sony’s multiple recent patent filings point to a determined effort on that company’s part.