When you have a good idea, what you want to do is protect it as much as possible, so as not to end up the next day with a competitor who bites you and improves it, while becoming ultra popular. So these studios took precautions …
Like any cultural industry, the video game industry can end up being quite fierce when it comes to copyright. If in its infancy, it was quite possible to draw very strong inspiration from a competing game to create something similar (with a twist), it is a practice that is now a little more regulated. Especially when the studios themselves file patents on certain gameplay mechanics or ideas, just to be absolutely certain that no one will steal their precious advances, in case they become very popular.. So here, we are going to come back to these ideas behind games that have been patented, so that no one else can use them.
The Nemesis system in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War
This is what makes all the flavor of the two most recent Lord of the Rings games, Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War: the Nemesis system puts increasingly strong enemies against the player in a huge open world, allowing the latter to meet these famous “Nemesis” procedurally generated throughout his adventure. The real plus is that they each have a very different personality and an original way of fighting. So inevitably, the idea was patented by Warner Bros., until 2025.
Mass Effect’s interactive conversations
The way in which conversations are handled in Mass Effect, with this kind of wheel that gives dialogue options to the player during a discussion, is one of the big pluses of the series. So why haven’t we seen this feature elsewhere? Quite simply because Bioware has filed a patent for this way of organizing video game conversations.
Crazy Taxi and its big arrows
When picking up a passenger in Crazy Taxi’s crazy taxi, a huge arrow appears at the top of the screen to show the player the approximate direction to take to get their client to their destination. An idea that Sega decided to patent, for all racing games that would try to pique it later. Well, that will not have prevented some developers from taking it back.
The Directional Pad
For its NES, Nintendo has filed a patent on its controller, and more specifically, the D-Pad of the latter (or, according to Nintendo, the “Multi-Directional Switch”. A cross-shaped pad that will have left space for the competitors, a hole through which they immediately rushed. Rather than making a cross, they simply separated the buttons like on the PS1.
Mini-games in the loading screens
Namco was able to offer a real revolution before entering the new millennium. Because at the time, loading times were hell: players wait, waste time, in short, get bored. So to counter that, Namco games have implemented a system to play mini-games during loading screens. A brilliant idea that will have been immediately patented, which explains why we do not see more mini-games in the current loading screens.