Sony files patent for skin betting on video game consoles

Steven Rondina • May 18, 02:08

Skin betting might be coming back, but not in a way that many players might expect.

Sony has published a patent for a new system built around esports betting through its video game consoles. The patent would allow the company to offer action on esports events through consoles in a number of different ways.

Gamers would be able to use an overlay in-game to bet on ongoing esports events. Sony specifically noted in the patent that wagers could involve a long list of currencies, ranging from cash and cryptocurrencies to in-game items. Though the logical assumption would be that this is designed for the PlayStation 5, the patent explicitly opens up the possibility of doing this on “a game console made by Microsoft or Nintendo or other manufacturer virtual reality headsets, augmented reality headsets,” and more.

The patent was filed in 2019 but was published recently, which comes after significant wheeling and dealing from Sony. Earlier this year, Sony acquired control of the Evo Championship Series, one of the largest fighting game tournaments in the world. It’s easy to imagine how Sony could host competitive gaming events around PlayStation titles under the Evo umbrella while also offering betting action through its consoles. 

While this is undoubtedly an exciting prospect for some, there’s no word on when this practice might begin or even whether it will be fully realized. Companies will often file patents for projects that don’t end up getting finished, sometimes to guarantee their idea isn’t used by anyone else. But this could have huge implications for the future of esports.

How does skin betting work?

Skin betting is a system of betting that uses tradable in-game items as a currency instead of cash. This is typically done through sites that can automate transactions through in-game trading. The most notable example of this have been in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which had a robust skin-betting scene through which users wagered weapon skins against the results of professional matches.

CSGO skin betting was largely shut down in 2016 after publisher Valve came under legal scrutiny. This led to many skin betting sites involved with the game shutting down.

Because of the legal concerns and technical challenges involved in skin betting, few alternatives have popped up in the years since despite skin betting’s popularity. There has been in-game betting of items that have no price associated with them, such as in Dota 2 letting certain players wager the in-game “shard” currency on pro matches. But Sony’s patent could go far beyond that.

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