Sony Patents Video Game Voice Assistant That Sells Microtransactions

Sony has a new patent, likely for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, describing a voice assistant that jumps into offer hints and arrange microtransactions during games. The patent suggests an AI that will use player data and natural language processing to work out the best advice to give or items to purchase.

Helpful Hints

The “In-game resource surfacing platform” patent lays out how a language processing system will determine the goal in a game and point out solutions. In the drawing seen above, the user asks for ideas on how to defeat a boss. To work out the best advice to give, the AI uses information about the individual player as well as players of the game overall to suggest what to do. That could mean a strategy, a list of items to acquire, or things the player can buy from an online store for the game.

“Often, there may be an in-game resource of the game environment that could aid the user in accomplishing the objective with the character,” the patent application suggests. “The in-game resource may be downloadable content (DLC), add-ons, upgrades, items, tips, strategy, communal data, etc. However, the user is not necessarily aware that such a resource exists.”

The PlayStation 5 is expected to come out in late 2020, but there’s no official date for the release. The fact that Sony will not have a booth at E3, the largest video game event of the year, has led many to think Sony will host a special pre-launch event for the PlayStation 5 on its own.

Voice-Friendly Video Games

The voice assistant described in the patent fits well with other hints that have emerged about what the PlayStation 5 will be like. A patent last month from Sony described a controller with a microphone that will probably be a part of the PlayStation 5 as a way to communicate with the voice assistant. That patent drew what looked like a DualShock Controller with a microphone and speaker, as well as haptic feedback and vibrations.

There have been rumors about the PlayStation 5 having a voice assistant for a long time, but the new patent clarifies a lot of how it might actually function. It could also be a template for other video game voice assistants. Google’s new Stadia video game streaming platform connects with Google Assistant, although it shipped before that function was ready. Google has said it will use Google Assistant to enhance Stadia, including by offering hints. Microsoft has its own voice assistant plans for the new Xbox, although they don’t involve Cortana. Instead, the voice AI might use Google and Amazon’s voice assistants or something new created by a startup like Fridai, which builds video game-specific voice assistants and recently joined the Microsoft for Startups accelerator. Voice AI is going to be a part of the next wave of video game consoles, the only question is how good the advice will be.


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