Online Games Soon To Be Spectator Sport

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Don’t call me a prophet. No, not yet. But in 20 years remember this article and how you were told it would happen. Imagine sitting down to catch a pay-per-view soccer match. The team: Manchester United. So what? The team is digital and controlled by a Simon, a 16-year-old kid in Santa Fe. He’s playing against Kim’s Peruvian All Stars in Seoul. You paid $18 to watch a video game soccer match.

Not bloody likely? Microsoft’s 5000th patent may say otherwise. United States patent no. 6,999,083 provides for technologies that allow people to not just play video games against each other online, but to join the game as a spectator from anywhere in the world.

The patent covers technologies to be featured in Xbox 360 games and included in Xbox Live for creating a “spectator experience similar to the viewing of a sporting event broadcast.” Viewers can watch highlights and instant replays from different angles.

The patent also allows for a Web portal to access spectator-related services such as schedules and information on multiple games and events as well as the number of spectators and participants in each. The portal allows the spectator to find the most popular games to watch, preview the action, and then connect to the desired game or event.

Microsoft’s 5000th patent announcement comes just two days before David Cole’s Business Week Online article about the online games boom.

Cole writes:

“After years waiting in the shadows, online games are now generating significant revenue. According to the just released DFC Intelligence Online Game Market Forecasts, subscription revenue from online games was $2 billion in 2005 and is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2011.

“Furthermore, subscription revenue is only one part of the online game business equation. Advertising and digital distribution revenue are also expected to grow significantly.”

Yes, I can see it now. Simon’s Manchester United team, sponsored by Pepsi, loses to Kym’s Peruvian All Stars due to a glitch in the network. Cars are flipped and burned in the riots that rock Santa Fe and Britain. Kim lands a multi-million dollar sponsorship from Coca-Cola.

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Online Games Soon To Be Spectator Sport
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