Next-Gen

PS5 VR patent teases a "feature" you'll want to disable immediately

Could better hardware mean more ads?

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The PlayStation 5 is months away from ushering in the next-generation of console gaming, but if a new Sony patent is any indication, then the future of VR could be loaded with a new kind of advertisement that seems utterly obtrusive.

Sony unveiled the design for its upcoming gaming system in June, and now new evidence has surfaced suggesting the company might be preparing a new set of virtual reality hardware for release to complement the PS5.

Sony was granted a patent application by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 25 for various ways to present advertisements within a virtual reality interface. The documents that were unearthed by SegmentNext revealed that as VR technology slowly becomes more commonplace, Sony wants to advertise its other products to gamers while they’re playing PSVR.

Here’s a portion of the patent summary:

“One possibility as a new marketing technique associated with widespread use of HMDs would be to display additional content such as advertisements in a VR space or an AR space. Techniques for effectively presenting such additional content in a VR space or an AR space have yet to be sufficiently proposed.”

Sony proposed various ways to overlay ad imagery over games, each of which were far from subtle. All of them are essentially popups that would appear in a users’ field of view while they have their PSVR headset on. One example even shows ad imagery surrounding a user’s peripheral vision.

An example of how Sony is envisioning VR advertising. Not so subtle.USPTO

The PS4 home screen already houses a number of ads sprinkled across the PlayStation Store, PS Plus landing page, and other menus gamers navigate to, but these in-game pop-up ads would unquestionably be more of a nuisance to players. This isn’t the first time Sony has hinted that it’s thinking about rolling out a more aggressive PlayStation advertising strategy.

The Inverse Analysis — Sony has been trying to consolidate the branches of its conglomerate for years, a grand but yet-to-be-accomplished vision it calls “One Sony.” The PlayStation as a platform presents a prime opportunity for the company to try and make this vision a reality.

As of July 2019, Sony had sold 100 million PS4s, which means they could serve ads and promotions to a massive audience of gamers by using the PS4 and eventually the PS5’s interface.

“Enjoying the new Spider-Man: Miles Morales game? Why not purchase a digital copy of Far From Home?” or “Listen to the entire God of War soundtrack even when you’re not gaming!” seem well inside the realm of possibilities here. We already know that Google Stadia will find ways to make it very easy for gamers to spend money elsewhere within the Google ecosystem. And everything we’ve heard about the PS5 suggests big changes are coming to its home interface that'll insulate the user experience with targeted ads for other Sony products and games..

The company seems to be spitballing ideas to advertise on its existing and upcoming platforms, which does hint at brand-new PSVR gear. This could also result in a forceful ad push on the PS5 and eventually even on Sony’s PSVR interface, so here's to hoping it's a setting that gamers can toggle on or off as they see fit.

The PlayStation 5 will be released in late 2020.

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