PlayStation finally patents terrible-sounding ‘Bench Player’ feature

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This doesn’t seem remotely abusable

Sony PlayStation has reportedly acquired a patent on a potential feature that would allow players — or even stream spectators — to kick or “bench” in-game team members. Sony applied for patency in January, and while a patent report had previously surfaced in July, the feature was finally granted its patency on Tuesday, October 19.

As reported by Chris Scullion of VGC, the “Spectators Vote to Bench Players in a Video Game” feature would, as its cumbersome name suggests, offer up the ability for players and viewers to vote out in-game competitors, permanently or on a time-limited basis. So, for example, if a game that supported the new feature was being broadcast on Twitch, the audience could access a menu and vote to have a player kicked off the squad — even going as far as to send the targeted player template or “custom” messages warning them that they need to step up their performance to return to the game.

While the above description already outlines a thoroughly abusable gaming experience, the patent seemingly goes even further — offering up possibilities that include letting a spectator’s skill level award them vote dominance. Worse still, one example implements a mechanic wherein a spectator could actually pay in order to see a particular player removed — either with in-game currency, real cash, or via in-stream “auctions”.

Some Actual Humans sat at a table, discussed, and then ok’d this feature.

playstation kick player patent schematic

Multiplayer games and toxicity have gone hand in hand ever since the medium existed. I’ve personally been kicked from fighting games, shooters, brawlers, and sports titles for a litany of reasons which include playing poorly, playing too well, picking the “wrong” character, not healing enough, healing too much, conceiving a plan, not following a plan, not getting enough kills, getting too many kills, and having an LGBTQ related username.

Dodging “kicks” has dice-roll inconsistency, is often personal, and is rarely logical. That the industry has danced with the idea of capitalizing on said inconsistency and toxicity — perhaps even monetizing it — comes as zero surprise whatsoever. But, even if you were to give them the benefit of the doubt, if a developer genuinely thinks the reason players are kicked from games is simply “because they’re troublemakers”, then they could perhaps do with experiencing the acidity earned in a few rounds of League of Legends, Overwatch, Call of Duty, or FIFA… Hell, even Little Big Planet has its problems.

Of course, while the PlayStation bench player patent is now official, this does not necessarily mean it will actually be instigated into any titles. The possibilities for exploitation of the system are readily apparent, and hopefully, smarter heads will prevail.

A patented PlayStation feature allows players to pay to kick others from games [VGC]

Chris Moyse

Senior Editor – Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors.

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