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Sony Patent Suggests Old Games Could Get Bonus Content

A cloud-powered trick could inject new life into old games.

Yesterday, we got definitive confirmation that Sony will dive into cloud gaming, leveraging its two-year-old acquisition of Gaikai to bring older games to its newer consoles, handhelds and TVs.

psnowBut when those games come down for the cloud, some of them might have a few bonuses in store. A patent Sony filed in March of 2013, which was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, outlines how the company could inject new content into the middle of existing titles being streamed from the cloud, thus giving modern players an added incentive to re-play the games.

“Finding new ways to play preexisting video games can increase the longevity of older games,” the filing reads. “In response to this need, game designers have begun to produce mini-games. Within a mini-game, the gamer can be instructed to complete new objectives or challenge their friends for high scores in a format that was not originally designed into the legacy game.”

The only problem, the filing goes on to say, is that adding new content to old games would require a, uh, recode.

“In order to create mini-games without reverse engineering and recoding, a game designer may rely on the use of triggers and snapshots to provide information needed for the mini-games without having to dig into the code of the legacy game.”

So, what do “triggers” and “snapshots” mean? This is the meat of the idea: Being able to tell the game, mid-stream, that it’s time to show something new (the trigger), and saving the state of the old game in the cloud (the snapshot) until the mini-game is over.

One simple use case for this technology that occurs to me: If an old game available through the PlayStation Now catalog were getting a sequel, it would make perfect sense to tease players with a demo of the new game after they beat the old one. Whether or not we’ll see these sorts of remixed games when PlayStation Now test-launches in the U.S. this summer is anybody’s guess.

Two Sony representatives did not respond to a request for comment. Here’s a link to the full patent.

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