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Playstation 3 Am Cry?

One of the most wanted features missing from the Playstation 3 is the ability to use a custom soundtrack during gameplay. Movement has been made in this area with some games beginning to offer support, notably Super Stardust HD and High Velocity Bowling, but it’s yet to be offered for all games.

Though many expect the inclusion to come when Sony supports an in-game version of Playstation 3’s cross media bar, the implementation of this feature might just stay with the developers, since Microsoft owns a patent for this very functionality.

Microsoft implemented the ability to play your own music during gameplay in their first gaming system, the Xbox. The functionality naturally moved over to the Xbox 360, where Microsoft was patiently waiting for a patent to go through.

The custom soundtrack patent was submitted well before the release of the 360, presumably with the intention to lock down the feature for the next generation. It wasn’t issued until mid-2006, luckily just before the US/Japan release of the Playstation 3.

The US patent named “Method and Apparatus for Creating and Playing Soundtracks in a Gaming System” appears to cover any application that allows users to create soundtracks using their own audio tracks, such that they can be played during the execution of the game instead of the game’s default soundtrack.

Comprising of a thorough list of points and diagrams, the patents stand out claim is outlined thus:

1. A method comprising:

– receiving a request to launch a game in a gaming system;
determining whether the game has a user-associated soundtrack;
– if the game has a user-associated soundtrack:
launching the game; and
playing the user-associated soundtrack;

– if the game does not have a user-associated soundtrack:
allowing a user of the gaming system to select a soundtrack to play while the game is executed; and
playing a default soundtrack if the user of the gaming system does not select a soundtrack.

What does this mean for Microsoft’s competitors? Will this patent stop Sony from implementing the console-wide custom soundtrack functionality? This is possible, and could be the reason why it has been missing from the Playstaiton 3 for so long.

Sony may have already found a loophole in the patent to allow them to provide custom soundtracks for particular games, as long as the functionality is not system-wide. In this way they could avoid the patent. Microsoft could charge Sony for the privilege, but it would be a lot of wasted effort to patent this particular feature and then allow competitors to implement it.

Therefore, when Sony’s in-game XMB eventually comes around, custom soundtracks might be left on the cutting room floor. It will all depend on how constricting the patent actually is, and how kind Microsoft are feeling. Reasons for the in-game XMB delay may be found here – Sony are trying their best to get custom soundtracks installed legally.

Source: US Patent Office

32 COMMENTS

  1. hahaha, pay royalties or what ever. Does MS own the outcome of this functionality, or does it own *THIS* current method of executing this function?
    Because if so SOny can just be slick and allow ingame music another way.

  2. Thats sort of a ridiculous patent, it shouldn’t even be allowed. Its the same thing as browsing the net or doing powerpoint and playing your itunes on the background. What the hell kind of patent is that. So now you cant play your own music while enjoying a video game, its not like they invented video games them selves, I seriously doubt this is even true.

  3. Again guys, this patent is for the “method”, which is programming jargon. A method is a snippet of code which completes a particular task. ie. launch custom soundtracks. This method is exclussive to the programming language used on the 360. So this patent makes perfect sense, they own the patent for game launching on that system as well. The author of this article is lacking in programming/legal knowledge and shouldn’t have written this article. All that will come out of this article are fanboys and uninformed public spouting out rumours about how M$ can charge Sony and restrict them from making in-game soundtracks public. You CANNOT patent anything as vague as in-game soundtracks on any console as Microsoft has definately not programmed for the PS3 and cannot patent something that has not even been created yet. This article is crap…read my posts before responding or even reading the above article.

    • I think you are a bit too wrapped up in your programming jargon.

      A method when used in real life is simply a way of doing things. The same is true in patent language (which in my experience is quite different to English!)

      And you can patent something before you have built it, but you then have a certain amount of time to get a prototype built.

  4. I don’t know how real this story is since it will be April Fools Day tomorrow. If it is true though it’s the big problem with the whole patent and trademark system in the U.S.

    I think I’ll file a patent on starting a company name with the letter M. What will Microsoft do about that one?

  5. Frivolous lawsuits and extremely outrageous patents are what the United States is all about. Why push for innovation and creativity when you can simply lock your competitors out of any and all avenues and offer mediocre as long as its better than their mediocre.

    Microsoft has, in every possible way, become the exact opposite of what capitalism should be. As such, the company is a monster, a great crimson beast relishing in its own superiority. With no need to innovate, we’ll soon find this beast fat and boring, but with no alternatives available we simply have to settle.

    I mean seriously guys, how many of you WANT to use windows as your main OS?

  6. @Brian

    They will sue you or hold your mother hostage until you give up on all fours yelling “I am Microsofts bitch! Please forgive me my Heresy! I am not Worthy”!

  7. “Good job, Microsoft.”

    Sorry, what? Do you just sit and wait for M$ stories then post some shit like this and sit and toss yourself off over it? F*** off back to GameSpot fanboy.

    Seriously, you spoil a great website with your bile.

  8. Justin: It could have been a patent exclusive to a particular gaming console/programming language. But this patent is not. You are right, the patent does refer to a method, which as stated in my article, could be avoided by competitors.

    However, the method is not limited to programming or a particular OS. Here you are wrong. The patent clearly states:

    “Although the invention has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.”

    The claimed invention is the method quoted above in the article. I ask you to hesitate before you insult someone’s intelligence and knowledge of their sources.

  9. @needtocontrol I agree…

    Patents suck! There either used to stifle innovation or to sue (or black ball) someone out of business, something microsoft is infamous for.

  10. It’s just the type of thing that screws the gamers of one “side” or the other, causing aggro in threads and much biting at spurious comments :o)

    Note to self: don’t post in the mornings after daylight saving change

  11. You CANNOT, i repeat CANNOT patent that! it woud be impossible, think of all the times youve played a game o your PC to a soundtrack, no way can microsoft patent in-game soundtrack, infact…. you can doit on GTA for the PSP, so thats my arguement finished….

  12. @coltkillah

    of course they can. MS was the first to do it on consoles. If Sony even cared enough to do this before MS made the patent, then you PS3 lovers wouln’t even be f**king bitching.

  13. Boo Hoo, its not like there are alot of games to play on the POS3 to worry about the music. Just play your 3-4 good games then go listen to music. We XboX users will enjoy the good tunes and good games(at the same time) :D At least you have the Blu Ray

  14. Jason J, I don’t know why you are even commenting on a playstation article if you dislike the system so much? as for the Xbox 360 I happen to own one as well as the PS3 and to be honest if I have a choice between getting a ps3 version of a game or a 360 version I get the PS3 one. I already have had to replace one 360 because of the RRoD and I don’t play the machine every day. To be honest the only caveat I have with the PS3 is that the controllers are too darn small..The 360 controllers are the best in the industry, the right size, good layout, nice feel. I wish someone would sell a bluetooth 360 controller ripoff for the PS3, I would buy 4!

  15. What a silly article. Sure MS can patent what they did. Sony can just do it a slightly different way and then patent their way of doing it. LEgally, MS cannot patent having in-game custom music, only their method for providing it. No one needs to license anything from MS, they just need to come up with their own way to do it which is not at all difficult. Think Blackberry just a couple of years ago.

    Patrick Sheen, the Chanuce Hayden of video game press. Boob.

  16. pfreak: This is what I replied to Justin: “It could have been a patent exclusive to a particular gaming console/programming language. But this patent is not. You are right, the patent does refer to a method, which as stated in my article, could be avoided by competitors.

    However, the method is not limited to programming or a particular OS. Here you are wrong. The patent clearly states:

    “Although the invention has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described. Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary forms of implementing the claimed invention.”

    I’m very aware that they can produce another method. I’ve done my research and present all possibilities in the article. It’s a shame you feel the need to overlook what is said in order to insult me.

  17. BULLSHIT

    PS1 did this , was the XBOX out then , did MS make consoles then? BULLSHIT

    next they will be saying they have aptent for only XBOX to use graphics on teh loading screens,

    Nobbber alert

  18. @ Jason J:

    Though it might not be exactly like Xbox, PS and PSone games were able to play games before the Xbox. Only some games supported it but it still worked. Don’t quote me on finding the games as that is a long time ago and I doubt no one even cares about it.

    If you want to get really technical, PCs can function like consoles and all the 360 is a smaller version of a PC. Of course I HEARD they are going to get rid of the stupid patents and make it harder to get a patent.(source needed) Anyone else hear this?

  19. Hasn't anyone noticed the tractor trailer loads of Vaseline and K-Y Jelly rolling into the US Patent Office courtesy of MS?

  20. ok, its october now. someone please tell me if this is an april fools joke or not. because if so, a lot of sites seem to be in on it. also, can the author or a lawyer or someone tell my how the hell is it possible that sony basically needs to ask for Microsoft’s permission to implement an effing FEATURE into their own piece of hardware?
    this is like Britan taxing the thirteen colonies for stamps that were made in the colonies! it’s un-American! Having to ask a competing compony if they can can use their own technology that the other had nothing to do with….

    Just when i started kinda liking Microsoft…..

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