The gaming world is waiting for Sony to make the next move in this complex marketing chess game the Japanese giant is playing against Microsoft. Both companies took their time to announce PS5 and Xbox Series X features last year, teasing only general hardware specs and next-gen console capabilities without going into too many specific details. Microsoft then shocked fans in mid-December by unveiling the Series X name and showing the actual design of the console. Two months later, Microsoft announced most of the console’s key specs and features in another surprising move. During this entire time, Sony made only a single, unimportant PS5 announcement — it revealed the PlayStation 5 logo at CES 2020 in early January. At the same event, the company teased that the PS5’s best new features hadn’t yet been revealed. But if you know where to look, then you already should have a pretty good idea of what Sony has planned for its big PlayStation 5 reveal.
For months now, we’ve seen a slew of gaming features appear in Sony patents that describe various technologies that could be used in future devices, PlayStation 5 included. While there’s no guarantee any of them will end up in the PS5, two things are worth noting. One: these patents have emerged ahead of the imminent PS5 launch. And two: even if they go unused, they still provide a glimpse into Sony’s thinking for the future of gaming. Some of the technologies that Sony wants to protect with the help of patents might not even be possible or ready in time for the PS5 release. But the console might get them later, via software updates or accessory updates.
Sony has quite a few ideas for the future of gaming, it turns out. In what follows, we’re going to recap all of Sony’s recently patented gaming innovations:
DualShock 5 design
The new controller, whose name is yet to be confirmed, might look a lot like the DualShock 4.
Wireless charging controllers
The DualShock 5 controller might support wireless charging via an accessory, either at launch or later down the road.
DualShock 5 controller with rear-facing buttons
The next-gen controller might ship with built-in rear-facing buttons, or support for the same DualShock 4 accessory that Sony just launched, according to this patent.
New gameplay style
Aside from single and multiplayer gaming modes, Sony might add a different co-op gaming style that would allow multiple users to control various aspects of the same game or in-game character, as a new patent explained.
Novel controller features
Sony patented an unusual controller design, but the imagery used might be misleading. The patent could be about the DualShock 5’s touchscreen display. Or it could suggest that other devices, like a smartphone or a gaming phone, could be used to control a PlayStation in the future.
Speaking of new controllers, Sony is also working on a new PSVR controller that can detect fingers and gestures.
Playing games from everywhere
The cloud will play a major role in Sony’s PS5 future, according to this patent, which describes a controller that could be used to access the cloud to stream data to any screen.
Voice assistant to drive up in-app sales
This patent explains the technology that would allow the PS5 to recommend gamers solutions for completing game tasks and quests that might involve in-app transactions. It’s related to different patents that suggest the PS5 could support a voice assistant capable of providing gaming-related information in real-time.
DualShock 5 controller with microphone
A different discovery that further confirms Sony’s interest in a PlayStation Assistant is a gaming controller that features a built-in microphone to handle voice commands. The DualShock 5 prototype that Sony showed around in October appeared to feature a built-in microphone.
Learning from game actions
To work, a virtual assistant would need to be able to understand what you’re doing while playing your favorite games, and Sony has a patent for that as well. The technology could also help Sony improve features related to streaming gameplay and sharing gaming sessions with fans.
The PlayStation Assist
Sony’s virtual assistant, which is sometimes referred to as PlayStation Assist, could come with a companion smartphone app that would inform you of various in-game events and provide stats about your gaming sessions. Over on the console, the assistant can provide help with more difficult game stages in real-time, which would reduce the need for stopping play to access an online tutorial or a YouTube video.
PS5 dev kit design
This is the only new Sony patent that was confirmed so far. Sony actually patented the PS5 dev kit that developers received, and the real-life device looks exactly like the one in the following illustration. It’s unclear whether Sony will use anything from that for the final design of the PS5, but it seems very likely.