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Return of the LAN.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

August 25, 2023

2 Min Read
Logo for Sony's PlayStation console.

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) recently filed a patent that indicates it may expand multiplayer to much larger numbers. And while it doesn't confirm anything concrete, it gives an idea of where Sony's head is at.

In the patent's abstract summary, it calls for a technique that scales co-op and competitive games "to dozens or even scores of people playing simultaneously." Players would then play a game on a theater screen, with 100 players given as an example of the potential size.

Events (like The Game Awards) sometimes screen at select theaters across the United States. Something like this, but for playing video games could bring a powerful sense of community (perhaps not unlike fighting game competition EVO).

"An opportunity exists to build local multiplayer experiences in large venues such as movie theaters," the patent continues. It further notes the potential of creating local multiplayer games in AR (augmented reality), which introduces the "novel challenges" of creating "many slightly-different" perspectives of the same game.

What larger local multiplayer may mean for PlayStation

As noted in the patent itself, local multiplayer is typically set at four maximum players to match an average (or a perceived average) household. If Sony is actually doing something with the patent, raising the number of local players significantly creates some interesting possibilities.  

In the past, Sony has tried its hand at large-scale multiplayer games. PlayStation Home is one such example, with another being Zipper Interactive's online game MAG (which had 256-person multiplayer). Sony is currently working to enter the live-service space with multiplayer spinoffs Horizon and The Last of Us.

This patent news also comes as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of Larian's Baldur's Gate 3 will have split-screen co-op. While one game won't undo the general shift towards online play in recent years, that Sony is looking at trying to expand the horizons of local co-op could bring it back into fashion.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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