Sony Patents Plan to Pause Games for Advertising

Found via NeoGaf, a patent was filed by Sony in July 2011 titled “Advertisement Scheme for use with interactive content.” The scheme, if to come into fruition, would warn players in advance that their game is about to be disrupted before presenting a commercial. Action will presumably resume after a short pause.

An example of this is present in the patent with an illustration of racing between a number of cars, what appear to be warning lights, and before an advertisement for a soda appears.


It is important to note that many patents never go beyond the planning phase and that this particular patent may never see the light of day.

The full patent can be found here.

Analysis: I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I’ll begin by restating that there is a chance that this patent will never be brought to the public, but the fact that Sony even considered it is a miserable prospect. Using a game we’ve already paid for as a method for promoting and delivering more products to the consumer? Sounds stupid to me, too. That’s before you mention the player’s loss of control of the game and total immersion. I would also presume that players will be brought back a few seconds in game time to make up for the pause in gameplay.

Funny enough, even Sony has titled it a scheme and it’s exactly that. If Sony, or really any other publisher, put as much innovation into selling us more crap than it did into being inventive or original, the industry would be in a far better situation. I don’t see any possible way that this patent could be implemented without infuriating consumers all over.

The more I think about it, the more I start to believe that this is a way for Sony to rectify the mistakes they made with the PS3 in their upcoming console. As we’ve reported, Sony isn’t exactly in the best financial situation and they had to make a choice: either create a conservative console or find ways to make a cheap buck. It’s not surprising they chose to go with the cheap buck option.

One suggested outcome of this is that, with in game advertising, the prices of big-budget games may come down, but simply put, I don’t see this happening. Other than Sony, digitally distributed games are priced the same as physical copies, a move Nintendo recently stated they would be doing. In fact, the PS Vita is one of the only devices to offer digital versions of titles at a discounted price. Publishers are accustomed to pricing games at $60 and this is unlikely to change even if Sony implemented this patent.

However, this makes the more subtle advertising we’ve seen in games a lot more bearable, doesn’t it? Just a tip Sony: if this patent ever does come to fruition, don’t be surprised if a lot of customers jump ship to Microsoft or Nintendo.

Nathan Wood

About Nathan Wood

When he picked up a controller on that fateful day at the age of 6, Nathan had no idea how quickly it would captivate him. Enjoying a wide range of games, he is up for anything as long as it is of good quality, interesting or laughably bad. When not playing or writing about video games, he enjoys music, film, basketball and art. He is currently completing his last year of his IB diploma before mastering the great land known only as: University.