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Sony Files Patent for Cloud Emulation of Classic Games

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Sony Computer Entertainment, the games division of Sony, has filed a patent that appears to be for the emulation of new variations on classic video games delivered via cloud computing.

What is being proposed in the US patent filing revealed this week is a cloud-based game streaming service similar to services like Steam, which taking input (such as keystrokes) from users, and uses this to drive what happens in the game with the resulting images sent to end-users as a smooth video stream.

Sony’s filing goes further than simply emulating classic games as they were. It suggests the creation of “mini-games” in which there will be new objectives or challenges that weren’t present in the legacy game.

The patent filing provides some rationale for why modern gamers would find these mini-games appealing. “Instead of replaying the same level or completing the same missions repeatedly, gamers often desire new challenges when replaying legacy games.” It continues: “Further, since the mini-game is derived from a legacy game, the gamer already knows the characters and basic components of the game, and is therefore more likely to play the mini-game.”

The patent suggests that Sony has done research into adaptive load balancing of software emulation of a hardware GPU, and decreasing latency, which can be ruinous for an otherwise immersive gaming experience. It is also suggesting to use algorithms to determine demand for a given game title at any given time, for instance, to provide resources to run a popular game when children return from school.

The drudging up of old games runs counter to the idea that gamers are only interested in the newest titles. But making classic games available on new devices appears to be a major concern. For instance, in 2011, Sony released a series of PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable video games remastered in high-definition for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. This was partly to do with the fact that PlayStation 2 titles were not compatible with most PlayStation 3 consoles.

It’s unclear what platforms on which these new mini-games will be made available, but the underlying technology suggests that they could run on PlayStation game consoles, mobile consoles, and PCs with Internet connectivity, as well as other devices.

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