Microsoft has reached an impressive milestone by obtaining 5,000 US patents. And, most interestingly from our perspective, the fateful 5,000th patent is a game-related one. US patent no. 6,999,083 (titled 'System and method to provide a spectator experience for networked gaming"?) covers a technology allowing people to join a game as spectators, and thus allows consumers to tune into a video game in the same way that they would a sportscast.
Microsoft press release at http://shorl.com/dymyprylusesy
US Patent No. 6,999,083 at: http://shorl.com/dyjekesufresto
Coverage at http://shorl.com/byrefosyrere (Gamasutra)