Proposed under the guise of a time-keeping assistant, Sony’s freshly filled PS5 patent has the potential to spoil major game moments.
A new Sony patent has the potential to reveal spoilers as it aims to offer PlayStation 5 owners a time-keeping feature to help plan out gaming sessions.
Filed on in November 2018 and published last week by applicant Sony Interactive Entertainment, the PS5 patent proposes what it calls an ‘in-game durational information platform.’ The platform will offer players information via assistant-like implementation about how long it will take to beat a specific game segment or activity.
As the patent explains, the idea is to bridge the gap with other forms of entertainment (for example, people know exactly how long an episode of a Netflix lasts) by offering a clear indication of the time commitment required.
The platform offers an estimated completion duration using player telemetry from previously beaten passages in the game allied to aggregated data from a broader pool of PlayStation 5 players to determine effectiveness. The player skill level will factor in, and the platform will present a shorter completion time to more efficient players, and vice versa.
From there, the platform compares that average duration to any upcoming real-world commitments, for example, a TV show or professional engagement. The PlayStation 5 feature will then tap into a player’s schedule to determine whether there’s enough time to beat a mission or quest and if there isn’t, offer an alternative.
It will take you about 45 minutes to complete this level. A show you watch airs in 30 minutes. Do you want to continue, or would you rather try another objective or game that takes less than 30 minutes?
Aside from the rather interesting concept of giving PS5 owners a tool to manage their game time, the patent suggests offering players strategies and advice on how to complete activities that have the potential to spoil pivotal parts of a game. In particular, the platform could provide context-specific information to shorten the duration of specific in-game passages.
The patent points, for example, to combat efficiency advice or using a specific resource, which could have a direct impact on beating a boss or besting a tricky section. Under normal circumstances, the player would come across these organically through gameplay at a pace matching that of the narrative beats laid out by the developer.
By way of example (spoiler warning here), one of PlayStation 4 exclusive God of War’s most pivotal passages sees protagonist Kratos reunite with an iconic weapon from earlier entries in the franchise.
Not only is the player empowered with a new powerful weapon, but the moment crucially highlights Kratos’ internal struggle as he reluctantly equips a weapon that reminds him of his troubled, violent past. As anyone that’s played God of War knows, the passage is best experienced blind.
Under Sony’s new PS5 platform, the player could see the moment spoiled ahead of Santa Monica Studio’s carefully crafted route to the big reveal. If a player keeps dying to a particular enemy, the assistant may suggest advancing the story to pick up the new, powerful weapon and then return to beat the difficult enemy.
The implementation of such a feature would also add new points to discuss in the on-going debate about the increasingly pervasive hand-holding in video games and player agency.
It’s worth noting that the patent doesn’t guarantee we’ll see the feature in the PS5 at launch, or even ever. Companies file patents by the thousands each month, with only a handful transitioning beyond the conceptual stage.