A patent recently published by Electronic Arts suggests that the company could consider using artificial lag to help level the playing field.
There are many types of online servers used in video games, although the two most common are dedicated and peer-to-peer. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, but the latter, which involves one player acting as a host while the others connect directly to them, is generally considered the worse of the two due to the huge advantages that can arise from being selected as the session host.
Since host input does not need to be sent and received on a remote server to be processed, they are often able to respond much faster than other players. It’s for this reason that many gamers prefer to play on dedicated servers, although the higher cost of doing so often leads developers to go the peer-to-peer route instead. Fortunately, some have at least tried to find ways to minimize the host advantage, as evidenced by a patent recently issued by EA.
The patent describes a system that would see artificial input lag used to ensure that each player’s inputs take the same amount of processing time. The disclosure even goes so far as to reveal that this input processing delay would be 100 milliseconds, which on a 60Hz refresh rate display is equivalent to six full frames. It also seems to suggest that this delay would also be added to offline sessions, to ensure that the gaming experience remains the same whether players are connected to the internet or not.
Given that some gamers spend thousands of dollars on low-latency displays with high refresh rates and expensive gaming mice to improve their reaction times, the idea of developers intentionally adding lag may seem odd to some. . It arguably makes things fairer, though, and competitive players can still benefit from buying better gear, as they’ll get their frames faster once they’ve been processed and returned by the host. .
“To address the benefits of input lag time, certain examples according to this disclosure may incorporate an amount of in-game input lag that would be experienced by any player playing the game, whether on a game client device local or streaming client device interacting with a streaming system.For example, a game according to this disclosure may be configured to include a 100ms input processing delay whether played in a streaming environment or no and regardless of gaming device or gaming setup.”
It’s important to note that there’s no evidence to suggest that EA already implements the system described in the patent, nor that other developers and publishers don’t have similar systems already in use (as some have speculated, this is the case for years). Even so, the fact that EA filed a patent built around the idea of adding artificial input processing delays to its video games would seem to suggest it’s something the publisher is considering, at the very least. .
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