Electronic Arts has been granted a new patent for a method and system for sharing game saves from VR titles across platforms, including non-VR platforms. Specifically, the patent applies to “online games,” and states that it enables the “progress of a user character” to be obtained via a VR interface. For clarity, the concept isn’t entirely new since game save data – which typically includes player character progression – can already be shared in some instances. However, it is still not a common attribute across multiple platforms. Moreover, it is a feature that is all but unheard of in the VR gaming industry. The progress in question also appears to be shareable across VR, smartphones, and a computer. Not only does the company include a mobile device in its patent diagrams, showing connections between all of the devices via the cloud. It also explicitly warns in the patent description that the use of VR might lead to challenges for developers that depend on mobile applications for monetization of titles. Beyond those platforms, televisions are also listed as a viable platform – possibly suggesting that consoles or smart TVs could be included.
Moving past the benefits of a system allowing progress to be saved and accessed across the listed platforms, the patent could also have an impact on online gaming itself. As of this writing, the number of VR titles that feature online multiplayer is effectively zero. So Electronic Arts could very well be the first major publisher and game development powerhouse to consider the prospects. The implications of that are considerable. It might not only mean that the company has discovered a way to make online multiplayer gameplay feasible in the real world – in spite of limitations caused by the amount of processing power required for such games. It would also seem to indicate the company now perceives that the available audience for such titles to be large enough to warrant the investment.
With that said, there are no guarantees at all that Electronic Arts intends to use its patents for the foreseeable future. The patent – filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization under designation US10035068 – could just be a way for the company to make the first claim at the concept. That would allow it to license the method and technology to respective OEMs or developers. In any case, the patent does suggest that at least one game developer is taking a serious look at the benefits to both players and developers when it comes to moving content uniformly across mobile, traditional, and VR platforms.