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Sony patents game pausing ads

Designed to stop and start game play while advert shows

Sony Computer Entertainment America has filed a patent for in-game advertising that pauses play.

Invented by Gary M Zalewski and filed last July, the patented system is designed to suspend "playing of the interactive content," display an advert and then resume the game again. Players will get a warning that their game is about to stop.

1

An example advert featured in the patent

The specific text of the patent describes it as such:

"A method for use in advertising includes initiating playing of interactive content, suspending playing go the interactive content, displaying an advertisement, and resuming playing of the interactive content."

In the small print it adds that this advert could be initiated by a server signal to make sure all players see it simultaneously, which should prevent multiplayer fans getting hit with an inappropriate advert and being disadvantaged. It also notes that the same advert could be played on multiple client devices.

While its easy to predict the outcry Sony would see if it introduced the system into triple-A titles, the scheme could work as part of a free-to-play business model.

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Latest comments (30)

Rodney Smith Developer 4 years ago
Can't wait for these!!!!!!
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Andrew Animator 4 years ago
I didn't read past the first line. If I ever buy a game that has forced adverts which pause the game, I will stop playing games.
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Junior Enwright Writer - novelist, game narrative, article writer 4 years ago
That sounds like something Sony would do. I think that this is a very bad idea. It is counter productive and it will ultimatlely lead to Sony losing customers, and the PS3 will start to fall into decline.
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Show all comments (30)
Junior Enwright Writer - novelist, game narrative, article writer 4 years ago
I MEAN WHO WANTS ADVERTS INTERRUPTING THEIR GAMEPLAY!!! Silly Sony!
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd4 years ago
How is this in any way novel? It's a synchronized pause.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Most annoying thing evah!

But it's good business sense for Sony to patent it.
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Lets hope its not blood y hair shampoo adverts, toothpaste, or mood enhancers...
whereas some classy 30s in game related to game ad would be interesting if there is a board to screen all these things...
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
This sounds like a good way to drive players nuts. Surely ads in loading screens or between levels (or in multiplayer lobbies) would be a bit better?
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
So instead of having it in a loading screen or similar so it doesn't destroy gaming experience, it has to be right in the middle of a bloody game. I don't mind adverts and free to play, but a method like this? No way.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
It could also be argued that an advert that puts you in a bad mood is not going to be the most effective sales pitch.
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd4 years ago
MEAN WHO WANTS ADVERTS INTERRUPTING THEIR GAMEPLAY!!! Silly Sony!
The question isn't, "who wants adverts?", it's "how much don't we want adverts?", which is where the money is. Take Spotify or Grooveshark for example, you can happily use their service for free with ads, but if you can pay for them to go if they're that bad.

Still, I don't see how this is even patentable. What is novel about it?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 25th May 2012 1:56pm

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Pier Castonguay Programmer 4 years ago
They better give games away for free if they do that.
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Graeme Quantrill Mobile App Developer 4 years ago
No surprises. Sony are definitely on the dark side of this industry.
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You can patent that? Surely that capability is already in the public domain...
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Robert Swan Designer/Artist/Producer, Double Ace Game Studios4 years ago
From a gamer's perspective, quite possibly the most insane/ridiculous/offensive concept I think I've ever encountered; even if utilised in a F2P scenario, the result would still be a title that no-one in their right mind would touch with a ten-metre cattle prod.

The oft-used Spotify analogy doesn't hold water either, simply because what you're listening to doesn't get interrupted in order to sell you stuff.

If this is the future of mainstream videogames, then quite frankly, you can poke it.
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Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd4 years ago
You can patent that? Surely that capability is already in the public domain...
My point exactly. Of course this isn't just a patent, it's a foothold on ad supported gaming. It now means that when it is the norm we will be paying a royalty to Sony. Large corporations are happy with it (hence no opposition) and will go along paying for licenses to use the patented "technology", it's the indies and FOSS communities that will suffer. This nonsense is unjust and really needs to stop, it's making a mockery of the legal and judicial systems.
The oft-used Spotify analogy doesn't hold water either, simply because what you're listening to doesn't get interrupted in order to sell you stuff.
I wasn't saying that in justification, I'm just trying to picture it in my head, and it might be more acceptable than you might imagine. Yes I know, it sounds awful, playing a game and then halfway through being interrupted. I just think I've seen people tolerate much worse, it surely can't be any worse than someone demanding you pause your game while they flick over the TV channels and check the weather,etc.? and don't forget, we're talking about free. I don't mind watching a few ads - I need to keep up to date with what's what anyway. Ads are like news bulletins for status symbols and the latest fashions.
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Robert Douglas Studying B.A in Game Art and Design, Art Institute of Pittsburgh4 years ago
If this is what Sony is planning for their future console ventures, well then this will be a poorly researched implementation of advert deployment and will not bode well for Sony's videogame business. The previously stated advert-injected via loading screens is a more suitable option (though no less annoying).

We game to get away from the real world for just a short while, who wants to be pestered in the one place that (even though there are in-game ads already) hasn't been fully taken over by ads? This isn't a passive TV or radio program where we are just the willing audience, we immerse ourselves in a game world for as long as we want and I sure as hell don't want that experience broken by a random advert that kills such immersion.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers4 years ago
I don't see the way this can work, except during more natural pauses during a game. In-game ads work best when they work around the experience and this is very intrusive. But then again, this is a patent and not an announced implementation - I have my doubts this will ever be used.
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Chris Tilton Composer, Chris Tilton Music4 years ago
I don't see any way this can be used with anything that currently exists either, but perhaps it could be used in live multiplayer events. I could see a countdown, and then an ad showing up for everyone in a free to play starcraft-like live event competition. But that's the only thing I can think of where it could work.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 4 years ago
WTF!!!! Its just a horrible idea.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 25th May 2012 7:13pm

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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises4 years ago
Hahaha I can't believe the patent office gave this to them. About half an hour ago in my game I'm programming, I decided it should pause itself at the start of early levels while it shows the button layout. Should I patent this too, and sell it to the trolls once it's approved?
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Tom Plunket4 years ago
Regardless of the effect this has on gamers, which isn't really the point of the patent, I fail to see how this isn't obvious. I mean, we've been playing non-interactive content in games for years and we pause the gameplay to do it. This is no different than a pre-rendered video playing that advances the story while the game is "paused."
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
This is more for licensing, I'm willing to bet. As in, they're going to likely license this to more ambitious developers. Remember: SecuROM is a Sony product. They have patent hands in everything.
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As far as Sony are concerned, they have a "loyal" fanbase and will manipulate them as far as they can. Whats wrong with a small Google style ad appearing somewhere on the screen, or a small image - while the game is running?

Especially during multiplayer, this does seem like madness. How do you know when the ad is ending and action restarting - they would need a "Ad ending in 3...2...1...".

Urgh!
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Bill Garrison Studying Student, DigiPen Institute of Technology4 years ago
"the scheme could work as part of a free-to-play business model."
This. In tandem with Sony's rumored streaming gaming service, this could mean a Netflix/Hulu equivalent for HD game consoles.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games4 years ago
On the other hand, it might be a good thing. If Sony owns the patent, no one else will be able to pause games for ads.

Just stay away from Sony games.
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William Brown Aspiring Level Designer 4 years ago
The patent system as abused today is fundamentally flawed in its ability to evaluate concepts and ideas that should be patentable. A recent conversation with a friend reminds me of Dysons bladeless fan, IMO a true innovation and worthy of a patent. Then, on the flip side is Apples 'slide to unlock' feature. What next? A patent that covers the actual touching of a button or pressing of a screen?

Recent news featuring the google/MS patent battle highlights the inaneness of some of the patents that companies hold. Surely the patent and then sue system is effectively a zero-sum game whereby companies pay each another for licensing 'tech' with no financial gain in net terms.
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Jeff Wilson4 years ago
If they implement this - I shall never buy another Sony product
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Brian Smith Artist 4 years ago
Great... Next we'll have to complete some surveys before we are treated to a games ending.
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Apparently stopping me playing my game to shove ads in my face is such a good idea that it needs patenting.

THIS is how casual gaming ruins everything.
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