Following USPTO’s approval of WB Games’ patent application for the Nemesis System, the publisher has attracted criticism from fellow industry professionals, who’ve pointed out that a lot of WB’s games have been built upon borrowed ideas and mechanics.
“This is really gross, especially for a franchise that built its brilliant Nemesis System on top of a whole heap of mechanics replicated from other games as all games do,” wrote Thomas Was Alone developer, Mike Bithell. “Because that’s how culture and creativity works. Be a better neighbor, WB.”
Riot Games’ Cat Manning expressed concerns about the broad language used in the patent, which would make things difficult for other studios, especially indie developers who don’t have the funds to fight legal battles.
“Hey, this f****** sucks,” wrote Manning. “I looked at the patent and it’s so broad as to be absurd! Multiple other emergent narrative systems that I have seen and worked on could be described with their language! It probably would not be legally enforceable but I and other indie devs don’t have the money to find out!”
Manning added that the patent could hamper creativity and innovation because it’s broad enough that it could end up being “a license to stop ANY similar work from being developed.”
Patenting gameplay mechanics is nothing new. As folks over at Video Games Chronicle have pointed out, publishers like Bandai Namco, Electronic Arts, Sega, and Microsoft have all patented ideas in the past. However, not all patents have resulted in legal battles.
Whether WB Games plans to enforce its patent or not remains to be seen.