A recent patent application describes a process in which an Xbox Live gamer, invited to a multiplayer session, but missing a critical piece to play (a map, a track, whatever), is offered and may buy it without dropping the invitation.
There probably is something patentable in the technology that manages such an online state, which Broke My Controller spied yesterday. But to the layperson, yeah, this looks like Microsoft's thinking that asking a simple question to solve a simple problem is a patentable process. Lots of things are patentable in the U.S. I remember at the end of the Coors brewery tour they had a wall proudly displaying all the patents their engineers had been awarded. One was for a beer bottle shaped like a baseball bat.
So the news here is how we might see some changes to Xbox Live Marketplace. Here's the problem the patent application seeks to solve: Say you get invited to a race, the race is on a track that's sold as DLC and you didn't buy it. Currently, you'd get an error message and have to figure out for yourself why your session dropped, then go into Xbox Live Marketplace, find the DLC (and the correct one, if there's more than one track pack), buy it, message the guy who invited you to ask for another invitation to the game, and then join up. Lots of moving parts, inviting players to give up at any one of them.
This, however, has never happened to me, and the absolute worst case scenario put forth in the patent application doesn't sound like a very common hangup. Usually you know the people who invite you to games, and usually there's some communication about DLC if a map is required. But since there's an opportunity to make money off of it, damn straight Microsoft will optimize for that minority. Anyone would.
Still, I'm also wondering what happens if a friend's at T-Bone Junction in Borderlands, invites a pal to shoot up some Lance, and the guy has to wait for 20 minutes while The Secret Armory of General Knoxx loads. The guy with the DLC can continue on his merry way solo, but is it still a background download or is his friend in progress-bar limbo the entire time?
So this is probably better for dun dun dunnnnnnn .... DLC that's just an unlock key for code already on the disc. Great! Another justification for its existence.
Microsoft Patent Reveals Automated System for Buying DLC [Broke My Controller]