Sony looks to level up console gaming with the next-generation PlayStation 5. The upcoming system is set to launch in late 2020 with industry-topping graphics, greatly reduced game load times, and a refined DualShock controller.
The successor to the DualShock 4 will be packed with haptic motors to deliver unique tactile feedback. A pervious Sony patent gave gamers a look at what the controller might end up looking like. Now, a patent application published December 5 seems to explain how a new DualShock feature could turn exclusively single-players games into multiplayer experiences.
Using a technique Sony described as “bifurcation of shared controls,” the upgraded DualShock would let two controllers combine inputs to control a single in-game character. That would mean players in the same room wouldn’t have to pass a controller back and forth if they want to jointly play a single-player game.
Sony also wants to take this feature online. Using an “input aggregation server” enabled by cloud computing, the PS5’s controller could let gamers across the world play the same single-player game. This could be used to virtually pass control back-and-forth between players, say, every time a new level is reached.
The patent concept takes this a step further, suggesting a group of players could also control various buttons at the same time. So player one could be driving a tank with the joysticks, while player two decides when to shoot with the bumpers. Here’s a summary of the concept:
“In some implementations, the shifting of the division of controls can be at a set point in the game or can be dynamically in response to some condition. It will be appreciated that this can provide further complexity to the game play.”
Input aggregation could let single-player games become a group activity. Of course, Sony would need to release games specifically built for this feature or risk turning games that are already a difficult to navigate with one player, like Death Stranding, into co-op catastrophes.
Letting players pass controls over the cloud would add multiplayer functionality to games where it would have never existed. It would be a unique twist on what the Nintendo Switch did by letting players split their controllers, but no physical splitting would be required.
Back in May, Sony penned an agreement with Microsoft that would allow it to leverage its competitor’s superior cloud server infrastructure. That technology could be the basis of cloud-based controller sharing without any annoying input lag.
While it may seem that Sony is poised to turn this patent into a reality, many patent applications filed by companies never actually make it to market. But Sony is clearly focused on giving its next DualShock controller features that have been completely unheard of until now. Previous controller patents have suggested the PS5 could also come with a Siri-like voice assistant and a built-in microphone.
PlayStation 5 is expected to launch in the holiday season of 2020.