Loading screenless direct gameplay on the PlayStation has been an ambition of Sony for a while, and it may actually be getting closer to finally implementing that into its consoles. According to TechRadarSony recently filed a patent that allows players to skip the loading screens and browse menus as we no longer have to be patient and wait for things. The patent published by USPTO, describes the use of “templates” set by a player to start a game in any way – such as jumping directly to a multiplayer game without having to wait to match with a team, resuming a saved game without select ‘resume game’ or switch directly between games.
It’s a bit like the old days of console gaming, before a storage feature was invented; you had to pause your game and leave your console on if you wanted to continue where you left off. That’s the idea behind direct gameplay right where you left off, but it’s a much more complex system of networks and cloud servers – and you can turn off your console while the game is ‘paused’ elsewhere.
“The user can select the template, which can then start the activity associated with the template […] Each template can be updated, edited or deleted, or new templates can be created, “says Sony in its patent. It sounds like the player has to set these templates for every game they own, if they want to. I don’t see much benefit in setting up a template for a game like Overwatch, because I don’t play the same game mode every time I start the game, but a single player game Life is strange? Yes. Take me straight to where I left off.
It is also not entirely clear whether these templates only work when you start a game, or whether they work in-game. For example, I just entered a match Overwatch; will it immediately throw me into a new game once the game is over, or can I select “no” with the template I created and return to the main menu?
In its patent, Sony also describes the use of cloud servers as a possible way to implement direct gameplay. However, this wouldn’t be like cloud gaming as your games are still stored on your PlayStation. As it currently stands with cloud gaming platforms such as Google Stadia and GeForce Now, you can pick up where you left off on any supported device, but you still have to scroll through the menu to launch the game and wait for it to load, what depends on your internet connection.
One of Sony’s great ones promises with his PS5 is that installing or updating games will be much faster due to the custom SSD which is said to have read speeds up to 5.5 GB / s. But a fast SSD doesn’t take the load times away, which is why Sony is still researching this direct gamplay option – and it seems much more possible now that gaming in the cloud is a thing. But it seems unlikely that we’ll see immediate gameplay at the launch of the PS5, so for now it’s still just a promise.