Remember how, yesterday, I said that patents were the bane of creativity? Well along comes Microsoft to prove me right! The Xbox 360 platform holder has been assigned a patent giving it exclusive rights to squad-based shooters that feature a drop-in/drop-out co-op mechanics. Fortunately, this does not extend to seamless co-op across the board, but if your game is a squad-based shooter and you want to offer this kind of dynamic, then you owe Microsoft some money.
I didn’t even realize you could patent specific variations of existing ideas, but that just goes to show how screwed up the patent system is. Does this mean one could also obtain individual patents for this kind of co-op within every single genre? Capcom should snap up the fighting game patent, and I’m sure Konami would like to have its own co-op stealth patent.
The patent was originally filed in 2002 but was approved last week. It was originally for the first Xbox but, as you can see, Epic Games made good use of it for Gears of War. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to patent masturbating after painting one’s hands blue.