A look at the protected inventions behind Mass Effect, Tekken, Final Fantasy, Katamari Damacy, and...Pikmin DS?
Gaming has a lengthy history of knockoffs, dating right back to Pong and stretching to the present day's inundation of shameless me-too mobile and tablet titles. So it should come as no surprise that gaming has an equally lengthy history of companies filing patents to counteract those knockoffs. Some of these may be relatively well known, such as Namco's patent on letting players play minigames during loading screens or the force feedback patent that saw Immersion win its nearly $100 million lawsuit against Sony over the DualShock line of controllers.
But patents in games go beyond the periphery and peripherals; many of them cut right to the heart of some of the most popular and successful games in the industry. To give an idea of what sorts of features game companies are afraid will be pilfered, we've compiled a selection of 10 strange and striking patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, complete with each patent's abstract, art showcasing the idea in theory, and screens of the patented systems in practice. Included are an array of features that span the spectrum of importance, from core gameplay to nearly irrelevant window dressing. There's even one patent that to our knowledge has never been used. (Although we certainly hope that changes in the near future!)
What's patented in these games?
- Final Fantasy X
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Mass Effect
- Xbox 360 Achievements
- Katamari Damacy
- Pac-Man Vs.
- Midtown Madness 3
- Pikmin DS