Friday, January 03, 2014

Sony Altering "Cloud" Gaming?

A patent published yesterday, but filed nearly two years ago by Sony, may give us a glimpse of the future of gaming that we've been waiting for...or it could crash into oblivion. Who knows.

The patent is technology for "suspended state of cloud based legacy applications." Breaking it down, the idea is that during gameplay from a product that is being serviced through a cloud system, the program will be able to freeze a moment in the game, take a snapshot of it, and introduce new content. The system would only work with emulators, but it can provide endless possibilities of adding new material to older games. Super Mario Bros. with new levels? New ducks to shoot in Duck Hunt? Just imagine.

"Finding new ways to play preexisting video games can increase the longevity of older games. Instead of replaying the same level or completing the same missions repeatedly, gamers often desire new challenges when replaying legacy games. In response to this need, game designers have begun to produce mini-games. Within a mini-game, the gamer can be instructed to complete new objectives or challenge their friends for high scores in a format that was not originally designed into the legacy game."

Which could also be really dangerous. Needless to say, it would still involve a lot of lawyers and reviewing licensing agreements, so I don't imagine this would be implemented anytime soon. Sony could be saving it as a patent to say that they have the patent, and if anyone else tries to replicate it, they've already laid claim to the product. It may never be used because of the potential for so many legal headaches by altering pre-existing content. Not to mention, how many of us want to have our favorite games changed? I replay a game because I love it, even though I know all the missions, side-quests, and where to find the secrets. Adding new things doesn't really amplify the replay value to me. I want to play my classic game as it is.

Something to consider...but this is something Sony could apply to their in-house content. Or independent developers focusing on PSN only sales could easily jump into this trend and keep their products constantly updated at a whim. But a positive from this is the potential to port older games, like Duck Hunt, to PSN without the need for months of coding and re-coding to get the game to talk to the PS4. Because it's all Cloud based, the only adjustments that need to be made are ensuring that the controller can be calibrated for the game. This could be a huge opportunity us retro fans have been waiting for. There's a lot to consider with this technology, both good and bad. But again, I don't imagine it'll be implemented for a while.

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