Sony Computer Entertainment America has filed a patent that could see video games interrupted by compulsory advertising. The patent's abstract describes the suspension of "interactive content" in order to display an advertisement, after which interaction resumes.
The patent suggests that a new mode of in-game advertising is under consideration, which to date has seen visual advertising and product placement appearing in games without overtly interfering with play. The development hints that, in future, in-game advertising may adopt a model much closer to commercial television.
The patent, filed July and granted November of last year, goes into more detail about how this would affect the user experience. The filing suggests that gamers could be warned of an impending advertisement by a warning message, or by slowing down gameplay. The filing also suggests that game content could effectively be rewound at or prior to the end of the ad, presumably in an attempt to ready up the player in case the gameplay broke off at a critical point.
Online multiplayer games are specifically mentioned, confirming that Sony is at least considering the approach to both online and offline games. During online games, the patent has clauses for the display of the same advertisement to all users simultaneously, and different adverts for one or more players.
In addition to the "video game consoles" mentioned in the patent, it is also applicable to computers, TVs, DVD and DVR players as well as home media servers.
Though the patent exists it is impossible to say how widely this mode of advertising is likely to be applied.
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