Warner Bros’ patent application of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system has been successfully approved. The patent will be in effect on February 23rd, 2021. Therefore, any gamers wanting to play with the famous game mechanic better load up their copy of Middle Earth.
Warner Bros have tried to patent the unique Nemesis system for some time now. We heard rumblings of the patent in 2015 but Warner Bros tried to apply for the patent in 2016.
After rejection in 2019, however, Warner Bros overcame the objections after a ‘Notice of Allowance’ in 2020. In conclusion, the USPTO supported the invention of the Nemesis system to be patented. The successful patent includes: nemesis characters, nemesis forts and social vendettas.
Ingenuity and creativity, as always, should be applauded and it is normal for any company to patent their inventions. However, this could possibly leave a bad taste within the creative industry.
After all, ideas can be built upon. It also leaves some developers in a kind of grey area where they could potentially step into patent infringement claims without realising.
Patented game mechanics – is it a good move?
Narrative Designer and Writer, Cat Manning, said in a tweet: “… 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.” Manning continued, “I’m still worried that it’s a license to stop ANY similar work from being developed.”
Patents do tend to have a shelf life, and this is no different. Warner Bros have the option to uphold this patent until 2035. However, patents are not new to the gaming world. For example, Sega patented Crazy Taxi’s compass arrow until 2018.
Also, Bioware currently has a patent for Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel. Lastly, did you know that Nintendo has a patent on Eternal Darkness’ sanity metre?
So, now that we can only see the Nemesis system in Warner Bros games, where could we see it being used next? With a host of IPs under their belt, we could possibly see a return of the system in a future Batman game. For a wider array of gaming news, visit Informed Pixel and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.