Sony Hoping to Minimize the Effects of Lag in Future Mobile Titles

Cloud gaming seems to be the next big thing for Sony and Microsoft. Subscription services like PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass allow players to download or stream hundreds of titles to their consoles or PCs. It also opens the door to the possibility of bringing console and PC-quality games to mobile devices.

However, there are a few hurdles both companies need to overcome before turning that potential into a reality. Sony, at least, seems to be making some moves in that direction. The electronics giant recently filed a patent for a system designed to minimize lag and data loss while streaming to mobile devices.

Sony’s patent is one of several meant to improve the experience of cloud gaming in general and 5G streaming in particular. As the patent document explains, there are various problems unique to mobile connections. Connection speed decreases the further users get from the nearest wireless tower, and there may be momentary loss or slowing of connection when transitioning from one wireless tower to another. While these slowdowns may appear small, they can be significant considering the amount of data that cloud gaming requires. There’s also the issue of data loss should the user go out of range, enter a tunnel, or otherwise lose their internet connection. It can also be difficult for players to know when they are entering an outage zone.

Sony’s latest cloud gaming patent describes a “Preemptive Loss Correction Module” intended to mitigate these issues. The module in question is a system within the more extensive cloud gaming network that attempts to predict potential connection issues and take steps to minimize their effect on the player’s gaming experience. This includes the Module collecting data to develop an outage map. Sony’s network will then check the user’s location to determine if they’re likely to encounter a slowdown or loss of connection.

The patent then describes how the system can use this early warning to mitigate data loss and latency issues by various means. These include notifying the player of potential network problems and adjusting the game’s performance on the fly to account for expected lag. Such adjustments may consist of reducing the signal’s bandwidth to increase the effective speed of the connection. In more severe cases, the Preemptive Loss Correction Module can pause the player's game until it finds a more stable connection. Sony’s system will also automatically save the player’s game if a dropped connection seems likely.

There is only so much the Loss Correction Module can manage. Sony’s patent doesn’t make the claim that it will prevent lost connections, and there’s little Sony can do to upgrade the existing infrastructure directly. However, assuming Sony’s system works as intended, it could significantly improve the performance of games streamed to mobile devices.

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