It appears Sony could be ready to move back to cartridges if its latest patent is anything to go by. The new Sony patent also seems to suggest it has not given up hope on portable gaming.
What does the new Sony patent suggest?
Sony’s patent, which was first spotted by German technology outlet TechTastic, describes a new cartridge format for storing games. Sony filed the patent last month with the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS), and the agency then published it earlier this month.
The new Sony patent is entitled “Electronic game cartridge,” and it has little information on the product, although it does include several informative images. The product shown in the image looks like a mix between a PlayStation memory card and a Nintendo Switch game cartridge. There is a key ring-style hole at the top and a USB port at the bottom. Although the written content in the patent suggests it to be a cartridge, the port at the bottom confuses things a bit. The port suggests a unique way of transmitting data.
It must be noted that Sony also filed a patent for a handheld game console last year. The image in that patent looked very similar to the Nintendo Switch. Now the Japanese company has patented a new video game storage format which could be used for a portable console.
It is possible that the new Sony patent pertains to a future PlayStation console. It is also possible that this patent just describes more technology that will never be worked upon. However, the patent does make it clear that Sony has portable gaming in mind.
Sony and portable gaming
Portable gaming is not a new segment for the Japanese company. Sony’s unpopular PlayStation Vita was a handheld console and used flash-based media for its games. Even though it was reported in 2015 that Sony wouldn’t launch a successor to the portable console, the company hinted earlier this year that it hasn’t given up on portable gaming.
“Rather than separating portable gaming from consoles, it’s necessary to continue thinking of [portable gaming] as one method to deliver more gaming experiences and exploring what our customers want from portable,” Sony’s Gaming division head, John Kodera, said at the time, according to Bloomberg.
Sony could be preparing a successor to the PlayStation Vita, which debuted in 2011 and will be discontinued next year. If the Japanese company is indeed planning this, then it will have to come up with a very compelling console, considering the massive popularity of the Nintendo Switch and the use of mobile devices for gaming.
Is the patent for the PS5?
If the new patent is not for a gaming console, then it could be for a storage device to be used in Sony’s next home game console. The company is reportedly working on the successor to the PlayStation 4, which is now five years old. It is only logical for the company to shift away from optical drives to something more convenient for its next-gen console, which is widely being referred to as the PS5.
Optical discs have been in use for games since the mid-1990s. However, many gamers now prefer to get their games in a digital format as they can’t be destroyed and do not require any physical space. Digital games are better in terms of performance as well. Games saved on hard drives or solid-state drives load faster than those on discs. Optical discs also have limited storage capacity and can’t accept new data. Moreover, optical drives occupy a noticeable space in the console. Removing the drive could actually make the next-gen console a lot more compact.
However, optical discs enjoy certain advantages as well. For example, games in digital format can’t be resold. Digital games also take longer to download, so it might be a major issue for those with limited internet access. Nonetheless, the advantages of digital games outweigh the disadvantages, and if Sony is working on portable storage for games, it would have thought of overcoming these disadvantages.
Sony probably won’t reveal its plans anytime soon because it is skipping E3. Thus, we could hear about Sony’s plans in late 2019, around the same time the company celebrates its 25-year-anniversary in the gaming industry.