Sony Patent Prevents Players Speaking Over Each Other In-Game

PlayStation Studios | Source: PlayStation


  • Sony Interactive Entertainment has been awarded a patent for a new system that aspires to improve communication between players during real-time gameplay sessions.
  • The patent aims to solve the problem of vocal collisions that occur during real-time gameplay sessions involving multiple players, particularly challenging when close teamwork and communication are required for successful gameplay.
  • The system detects vocal collisions, sets up a queue and provides a sequential playback of overlapping audio streams to enable better communication.
  • Players can also indicate the urgency level of their audio streams, which are prioritised within the queue accordingly.
  • The system can incorporate audio from the current gameplay session as an identified audio stream in the queue to be played back sequentially throughout the gameplay session.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has recently published a patent titled “VOCAL COLLISION QUEUE,” filed in September 2021 under the name of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. The patent, published last month, describes a system for detecting and managing vocal collisions that occur during real-time communication sessions in video games involving multiple players. When two or more players speak at the same time, their audio streams collide, making it difficult for other players to understand the communication. The proposed system records each incoming audio stream, identifies overlapping portions of two or more streams, and sets a queue for those streams. It then retrieves recordings of the overlapping portions and plays them sequentially in accordance with the determined sequence. This enables players to understand better and respond to communication during real-time sessions, improving their experience and performance during gameplay.

Exemplary network environment in which a system for providing vocal collision queues may be implemented. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

“A method and system for setting a vocal collision queue is disclosed. A plurality of incoming audio streams associated with a plurality of user devices currently involved in a communication session is recorded. There is an overlap between portions of two or more of the audio streams in the communication session that is identified. A queue for the two or more identified audio streams is determined,” reads the abstract for the patent. “The queue includes a sequence to the identified audio streams. Recordings corresponding to the overlapping portions of the identified audio stream are retrieved. The retrieved recordings are provided to the user devices in the communication session. The retrieved recordings are played sequentially in accordance with the determined sequence.”

Vocal collisions can be particularly challenging in video games where close teamwork and communication are required for successful gameplay. Multiplayer video games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and VALORANT require immediate communication among players to ensure success. However, when players speak over one another or continuously interrupt gameplay, miscommunications or a complete lack of communication can occur. Sony Interactive Entertainment seems to have addressed this issue with a system that detects overlapping audio streams, organises them into a queue, and plays them back sequentially to enable clearer communication during gameplay. Essentially, the system identifies when multiple players are speaking at once, creates a list of who spoke and when, and plays back the audio in a way that is easier to understand. This technology can potentially improve communication and teamwork in competitive multiplayer video games, ultimately leading to a better overall gameplay experience for players.

According to the patent’s claims, the system records audio streams from multiple players in a communication session, identifies overlapping portions, creates a queue of those overlapping portions in a specific sequence, and presents them visually to all players. The visual representation disappears after a set period of time or after all the recordings have been played. The visual representation of the queue shows each player’s transcription in a lane, with overlapping portions indicated in each lane. In addition, the system provides a displayed option for players to claim control over the communication session, which is provided after another player relinquishes control. The system also allows players to indicate urgency levels of their audio streams and prioritises them within the queue accordingly, which means that players can specify how important their audio is, and the system will make sure to play those important audio clips first in the queue.

Exemplary graphical user interface (GUI) in which detection of a vocal collision may trigger a queue. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

Furthermore, the sequence of the queue can be random, based on indications of priority, or based on keywords or phrases. The queue sequence is determined based on speaking times, with shorter speaking times prioritised over longer speaking times. Additionally, the system monitors cumulative speaking times for each player over multiple gameplay sessions. The system can also capture and include the audio from a current video game being played in the session as one of the audio streams that will be queued and played back sequentially. This is useful for gameplay sessions where players need to communicate with each other in real-time while playing the video game. The audio from the game can be included as one of the identified audio streams, allowing players to coordinate their actions better and communicate during the gameplay.

Exemplary graphical user interface (GUI) in which a queue with transcription is presented in a swimming lane diagram. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

Although the patent offers the potential for enhancing the multiplayer video game experience, it is important to note that it is only a patent at this point and does not guarantee implementation or even development. Nonetheless, the publication of the patent indicates that Sony Interactive Entertainment is focused on providing better gameplay experiences for players by catering to their preferences through personalised approaches, as evident in their recent patent applications. It remains to be seen, however, exactly how, or if, the company will integrate this system into its current and future video game franchises and platforms, and only time will tell.

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