Sony patents method for stream viewers to pay to remove players

What could possibly go wrong?

Image via PlayStation

Sony might be developing technology that will allow viewers to kick players during a game. The patent, which the company originally filed on January 15, 2020, was granted a few days ago on October 19. It proposes quite a few new features to encourage audience participation with streamers, though through different means than what many are used to.

The patent includes multiple methods that would let viewers remove any player they want; or as Sony bills it, “benching” players. Spectators could, for example, take a group vote and trigger the removal if the votes meet or exceed a specific threshold. These votes could be used for other things as well, such as sending the player a custom message or a notification to “warn (a) player to improve.”

Another method proposed in the patent document would let viewers pay a percentage or fixed price for the removal. Viewers could even bid in an auction to kick the player. There are multiple payment options listed, including in-game currency, credit cards, and cryptocurrency.

At the moment, there is little information available about how Sony would see such systems being implemented in their game, although we certainly hope it would be on a strictly opt-in basis. However, considering that Twitch is under heavy scrutiny for its handling of hate raids that have targeted queer and BIPOC streamers, the potential of the technology could lead to more negative possibilities than Sony’s intent.

There’s a high chance that the system could be abused to target marginalized players specifically. It’s worth noting that just because the technology is patented doesn’t mean Sony will end up implementing it, and the company might already have plans to combat potential harassment.