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Sony Patents Tech Allowing Spectators to Kick Players From Games

Sony's latest patent would allow viewers to kick players out of matches.
Sony's latest patent would allow viewers to kick players out of matches. / Photo courtesy of Sony

Sony has been granted a patent that would allow spectators of a game to kick players competing in the match, either by vote or by paying cash.

The patent is titled "Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game." Sony filed it in January 2020 and was granted it on Tuesday (H/T OP Attack).

The feature described in the patent allows spectators to vote to remove a player, pay to have a player removed, or send a player a custom message exhorting them to play better.

The patent cites Twitch as an example of many spectators viewing a live game, and as a place in which this technology could be deployed. Viewers would see a menu alongside the stream with the various options granted by the patented technology. Players would only be removed via this voting system if a certain threshold of votes in favor is met, but more skilled spectators — as in, those with a higher in-game level or more in-game accomplishments — would have weighted votes.

An illustration of the patented technology.
An illustration of the patented technology. / Photo courtesy of Sony

Analysis

The implications of such a system are so obvious it's shocking that Sony would even consider implementing it. Streamers on Twitch are already inundated with backseat gaming at best, and racist and sexist harassment at worst. This patent would put in place yet another avenue through which the worst elements in gaming could exert influence over streamers.

In fact, it's hard to imagine a good use case for this system. The players that most deserve to be removed from games are almost never those streaming them to an audience of any size, but those players would be exempt from these votes.

Could there be moments where voting a player out of a match would be entertaining? Maybe. But it's much easier to see that power being abused.