Isnt this done by many games already?


Yeah, but now we get to be robbed of a feature, like we were when Namco patented playing mini-games on loading screens. We needn’t have suffered as much during the worst years of loading.


Sometimes, just sometimes a company also patents it so no one else can use the terrible idea, not even them. Sony has done it a few times in the past. They patented yelling at ads to do something iirc.


🙌 McDonalds!!!


;_; TIL…that would have been awesome.

Omegamanthethird, avatar

It’s kinda like the dinosaur on Chrome when your internet goes out. It’s plays a little minigame until it comes back online.

BarrierWithAshes avatar

A lot of arcade games already do this.

cosmicrookie, avatar

Sony is making sure they can’t do it in the future


Only if no one challenges it, which is a big problem.

Patents are supposed to be given for new ideas, and also a certain degree of non-obviousness.

In the event that something has been done before by others, it should be open and shut to challenge the patent, but it still costs money. So it’s often easier not to, and the patent doesn’t get challenged.


Needs “loser pays”


I’m fine with dynamic difficulty, if it’s something that the designers bake into the game, which is already done in many cases.

MentalEdge, avatar

Yeah but this is about sony fucking patenting the concept, which is dumb as hell.


Almost as dumb as Nintendo patenting the concept of a sanity meter and then not fucking doing anything with it since Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.


It is dumb as hell yeah. Well, probably smart in a business sense, because it’s an excuse to collect more minute-by-minute user metrics for a seemingly innocent purpose (when really you know it’s just going to be gamed to crank up engagement, and trick people into spending money - ie marketing)

Nacktmull, (edited )

I might have a one sided perspective because I play mostly roguelites. To me that sounds like a horrible idea. When playing a game, I want to get good enough to beat one difficulty and then move on to the next. For that I need to be able to choose the difficulty myself. If the difficulty constantly changes without the players control it becomes impossible to get acquainted to a certain difficulty and even worse, there is no more challenge because whenever you encounter a challenging part of the game the game will just turn down the difficulty, instead of the player having to improve. What is even the point of “beating” such a game then? The people who come up with nonsense like this obviously don´t play games themselves and don´t understand at all what gaming is about.


There’s also a huge risk of this being misapplied. I remember way back in PS2 days, I was struggling with a jumping puzzle in the original God of War so much so that the game jumped in with a prompt offering to turn down difficulty. But turning down the difficulty in God of War reduces combat difficulty, nothing to do with the huge friggin’ hole I kept falling into from mis-timing jumps.

Honestly, every game I’ve played that offers scaling difficulty based on performance has been because I sucked at the platforming parts that they couldn’t make easier with a setting. Maybe it’s a hint that I should stop playing platformers.


Yes, that is indeed another good point against scaling difficulty.


It’s worse with this particular case because the patent is for cross-gaming. You suck at competitive Street Fighter? The next turn-based JRPG difficulty goes down.


WTF they can´t be serious?! How do people even come up with bs like this?

abraxas, (edited )

Trying to find ways to make something patentable that otherwise wouldn’t be.

They don’t actually have to implement the cross-game side of things because they got a patent that covers “same or different game”, and they can now carefully patent-bully over an unpatentable feature because nobody can afford to fight Sony in a lawsuit.

Edit: And I say carefully, because I cannot imagine a lawsuit about that patent being successful if properly defended unless the app in question builds the exact same behavior, which nobody is going to do because it’s stupid.

Gotta love patent law. I work at a company who got a (defensibly valid IMO) patent recently. There was so much silly red tape and complication that our final patent looked unpatentable to an outside observer like myself, but was approved by the Patent Office. Unlike the original feature that was far more straightforward and innovative, but that the Patent Reviewer didn’t really like because he thought some random unrelated product was “prior art”.


What a headache


And if I recall, that “prior art” was something very much like “list of student names in a database with various metadata like phone number or email address, rendered on a webpage”. My first reaction to their objection was “wait, that is absolutely unpatentable…right?”


My biggest hate to any non-interactive difficulty is that players change.

What if I take a 1-year break? I haven’t gone back to playing Go because I have a ranking I know I can’t maintain, and do not want to play games where I’m giving handicaps to people who I won’t be able to beat on an even level.

But yes, there’s also “different things are harder to different people”

vardogor, avatar

CS:Go? fwiw, your rank resets after not playing a while, so you might not feel that way if you hop back in


No, sorry. The board game Go. I used to play fairly heavily in long games on OGS and got to a fairly good (not if you ask anyone actually good) rank. Then I took a break and tried to play some real-time games and I’m so many ranks weaker than my profile it’s not even funny.

vardogor, avatar

ohh 😂 yeah that’s fair. it’s incredibly difficult to get back into something that’s almost punishing you for getting back into it


Exactly. And the “rusty” factor in Go is notorious. We play by handicap stones, and if you’re rusty enough, you can lose 9 stones (basically a 9 moves in a row handicap… not quite but close enough) . It took me years to get to the 2-3kyu rank, but now I’m probably closer to 9-10kyu if I’m being honest. SO imagine me playing against someone and THEM getting a handicap when I should have 6 or 7 full turns of handicap.

I miss Go, but I just don’t have the time anymore to dedicate to it.

sulsaz, video why dynamic difficulty isn’t the holy grail. Hope they leave it in as an option and don’t force it on the player

ICastFist, avatar

Thing is, it’s fucking easy to dispute this patent because of how many other games already do something extremely similar. Adaptive difficulty isn’t a novel idea. That they think they can patent it shows how broken that system is.

On a side note, the site had this other gem: New Sony Patent Will Let You Replay A Game From Any Point Possible. From the name, I thought they were patenting savestates, like those you do with emulators. But nope, it’s dumber and more convoluted than that, closely tied to streaming, somehow.

Anyway, fuck Sony and this patent bullshit


afaik software patents get awards based on the implementation details. So Sony could get a patent if they implemented this behavior in a novel way.

Although I do agree with you this is a basic feature in many games and that sold be recognized.


I think the “novel way” in this case is the idea that games can look at your data from other games to adjust difficulty. So if you do well in God of War, the AI difficulty in the new Devil May Cry could get harder. Ditto the other way around.

I would say it’s a newish idea. I don’t see it as particularly innovative, though. We just don’t do it NOW because it’s stupid.

starman2112, avatar

That seems extremely stupid. As long as devs are incapable of making standardized difficulty settings, this will be a nightmare. I beat the first Horizon on the hardest difficulty, and had to turn the difficulty down on Forbidden West. If they decided to adjust the difficulty based on my performance in the first game, I wouldn’t have gotten more than a couple hours in.


Absolutely. There are a lot of solid reasons that people should be kept in control of their own difficulty levels.

I refuse to purchase or play Fromsoft games anymore if I don’t have access to mods, despite absolutely loving their storytelling style. Why? Anyone who reads this immediately knows why.

stopthatgirl7 avatar

As long as you can still manually change the difficulty or turn it off, it sounds like it could be interesting.


I’d be frustrated if I kept having to adjust it back.


Fuck you sony. I have still not forgiven WB Studios for patenting the nemesis system and never using it anymore.

cosmicrookie, avatar

Why copyright this? They do more harm to the industry than their games and consoles can ever compensate!


Patents != Copyright.

Also, they can’t patent this, there’s too many prior games that already do this. As soon as it goes through they’re going to get challenged in court and lose handily

ArugulaZ avatar

fuck you, sony!


Does this mean other game publishers get sued if they use dynamic difficulty?

cosmicrookie, avatar



In theory no, practically speaking the patent system is absurdly dumb around anything IT. Multiple patents which Apple won against Samsung with got invalidated which cut part of the awards issued


Good to know, thanks.


No. Only if they use the same system. That’s what’s being patented, not the concept of dynamic difficulty.


Good to know, thanks.


SBMM for single player? As long as it means actual focus on some good single player game content it sounds ok.


laughs at Sony because of the inevitable patent challenge from Valve via Left 4 Dead.


The original Homeworld also scaled difficulty based on how well you were doing on previous levels.

ech, (edited )

Huh, I didn’t know about that mechanic in that series. I never really did end up liking L4D much, and thinking back on it, probably my biggest issue with the game was a feeling that I never really improved. No matter what I did, every time I played felt like I couldn’t catch up, and it wasn’t an enjoyable, “challenging” feeling. It was just frustrating.


One of the defining concepts in the game was the "director", an overarching map managing system that kept the desired pacing of the game in real time.


Ok? I’m not saying it didn’t exist, just that I wasn’t aware of it.


He’s not saying you said it didn’t exist he’s just explaining what it was and did since you said you didn’t know of it.


All good, just explaining briefly what it did and what valve called it.


Gotcha. I got the jist of it, but thanks for the additional info.


What I like more than this is when games make every individual aspect of difficulty (e.g. enemy health, enemy aggression, enemy damage, etc.) something you can tweak in the accessibility menu. Spider-Man 2 and The Last of Us Part 1 are two good examples of this.


I think there are toggles for that in the first Spider-Man as well. It’s there in the System Shock remake, too, as well as (I think) Jedi: Survivor.


I loved this in Mount and Blade: Warband, not sure if it made it into Bannerlord.


Don't Starve is probably the supreme example of this. It's great. You can adjust difficulty in specific areas.


If it’s optional, whatever, but if it’s a forced game “feature”, that would suck. I am perfectly capable of choosing the difficulty of the game I’m playing. Sometimes I want a good challenge, sometimes I don’t, but I never need the game to decide for me that I’m taking too long or going too fast. Screw all of that.

jjjalljs, (edited )

I would be moderately peeved if the game just decided to let me win. Clearing the sword saint in sekiro was a triumph. If the game made it easier because I was taking a while, it would cheapen the win.

Some people don’t enjoy the challenge and would probably enjoy this, though. Utterly alien to me, but they exist.


Bear in mind there are games like God Hand where it’s constantly punishing as well. The game never gets easy, it just gets harder when you do well for too long.


And you can to grovel in front of your enemies if you want to decrease the difficulty. or just die


Dynamic difficulty has its place. For example, most people don’t want to die to the same boss over and over again. That’s just not good gameplay and it’s overall a waste of time.

Instead, a dynamic difficulty system could very slightly adjust some values each time you die: a few points off the enemy HP, juice your damage a bit, slow the boss down. It can be made so subtle that you don’t even notice it happening.

Resident Evil 4 has a dynamic difficulty and people praise it for that. It keeps you moving through the game instead of feeling defeated when you have to manually reduce the difficulty or when you get stuck in the same area for a long time.


For example, most people don’t want to die to the same boss over and over again. That’s just not good gameplay and it’s overall a waste of time.

This is a very subjective opinion stated as a objective fact. I think Sekiro, for example, is great gameplay, even when lady butterfly kicked my ass for hours.

Some people would like the difficulty automatically changing. I would hate it. I do want to lose to the same boss over and over until I get it right sometimes. That’s part of what makes clearing sekiro such a triumph.

The other from soft games are similar, but they have leveling and coop as difficulty adjustments.

But I do recognize that not everyone likes this. Even I don’t like it in every game, probably.

Omegamanthethird, avatar

I would feel robbed if I overcame a tough boss and then found out that it was made easier. There’s a massive feeling of accomplishment when you have played a boss 30 times and finally beat them.

Maven, avatar

Good news for you, then: This patent means companies other than Sony won’t have adaptive difficulty for a whiiile. Remember how Crazy Taxi patented arrows pointing to your objective so every other game for 20 years had to do batshit indicators to get around it?

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