On May 17, 2021, the publication of a patent by Sony Interactive Entertainment mentioning Bitcoin was greeted with great fanfare by the cryptosphere. This had in fact already been refused twice by the US Patent Office, because the Japanese trademark project was not clear enough.
Online betting, video games and digital assets
According to information from PatentScope, the patent was originally filed in 2019, but the application for registration was refused twice by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Indeed, under US law, the laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas cannot be the subject of patents.
During the 2 releases dating from 2019 and February 2021, the USPTO considered that Sony did not provide enough detail on the technical aspects of its platform for it to be considered a service rather than an abstract idea. The patent was finally accepted and by the USPTO on May 17th. It therefore seems that Sony has passed the proof of concept stage and has a beta version or, at least, a prototype of its betting platform.
Basically, the patent presents a system where spectators of esports events could bet on the outcome of matches. The system would operate through an overlay user interface that will appear during the broadcast so that the user can place their bets.
Bets placed could take many forms and the patent states that:
“Bets can be pecuniary, as with money or bitcoins, or also non-pecuniary, as with gaming assets, digital rights and virtual currency […] The assets used for betting can be linked to the electronic wallet of a spectator. “
A patent with multiple possibilities
From this paragraph it is possible to draw several conclusions.
First of all, the range of assets accepted for betting is particularly wide. It would include all digital assets, even non-crypto ones. Indeed, the mention of Bitcoin implies that cryptocurrencies will be accepted, and the notion of digital rights seems to cover the concept of NFT.
Then there are many things that gaming assets can represent. These are, for example, graphic elements of certain titles, such as Counter-Strike, which sell for several hundred dollars and which could be used in betting.
The odds for these bets would be determined by machine learning, based on the playing history of the competing players or their performance in the current match. The patent is not limited to Sony’s PlayStation and mentions other home consoles as well as virtual reality systems. Therefore, we can assume that the Japanese company intends to create a betting ecosystem that is agnostic to the game medium and adaptable to all categories of e-sport.