Sony Patents Tech To Dynamically Adjust Game Difficulty
Goodbye to the difficulty menu?
Major publishers are always on the lookout for new features to take gaming to the next level. And Sony is currently working on a groundbreaking tech that could change the way we experience video games. Their latest patent, titled “Adaptive Difficulty Calibration for Skills-Based Activities in Virtual Environments,” mentions a system where the game difficulty automatically gets adjusted in real-time based on a player’s skill level.
Sony Patent Explores Idea to Calibrate Difficulty in Real Time
This means whenever you come across a challenge that is too tough for you, instead of dropping the game in frustration, the game will seamlessly change and lower/increase the difficulty so that you can continue playing and progressing. You don’t have to go back to the difficulty settings menu and change the level from there – this proposed patent will do it for you, ensuring you stay immersed and engaged.
It was published on 7th December 2023 and you can check it out here on Patentscope.
Here’s what the abstract of the patent says:
“Methods of the present disclosure may collect data when a user plays one or more different types of games when determinations are made as to whether the difficulty of a game should be changed. The collected data may be evaluated to identify whether a user gaming performance level corresponds to an expected level of performance. When the user gaming performance level does not correspond to an expected level of performance, parameters that change the difficulty of the game may be changed automatically. Parameters that relate to movement speed, delay or hesitation, character strengths, numbers of competitors, or other metrics may be changed incrementally until a current user performance level corresponds to an expectation level of a particular user currently playing the game. At this time, the user expectation level may be changed, and the process may be repeated as skills of the user are developed over time.”
Prior to this, Sony had another patent titled, USE OF MACHINE LEARNING TO INCREASE OR DECREASE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY IN BEATING VIDEO GAME OPPONENT, which was published in 2021.
How does this dynamic difficulty work?
The system uses algorithms to understand your gameplay data – it analyzes your reaction times, resource management, decisions during objectives, reflexes, and other actions to determine your skill level. So, during the game, if you come across any hurdles, the game will subtly alter and adjust various parameters including but not limited to enemy AI, resource availability, frequency of obstacles, and much more.
In theory, this does make games more inclusive because there are quite a few games that get dropped because of their high difficulty. At this time, it is not clear how games like Dark Souls or Elden Ring will take this into consideration (or, will they?)
Moreover, there are concerns about loss of control where players might want to keep playing at the higher difficulty level until they beat that level or defeat that tough boss. Some others fear imbalance, but how this actually comes into the picture, remains to be seen.
Most likely, there will be an option to turn Dynamic Difficulty on or off to give players a personalized and customized experience, if they want it.
Speaking of patents by major publishers, you might want to read more about EA’s idea to let players voice game characters, and Activision’s idea to suggest games based on livestream viewing.