Namco’s mini game patent has ended after 20 years

namco patent mini gameLoading screen mini-games could soon start making a revival, with Namco’s patent coming to its date of expiry on November 27th. In 1995, the publisher took out this patent, meaning only they could have little mini-games during the loading screens of their titles. Now, it’s open to everybody.

Namco allowed Tekken 5 players to play loading screen mini-games while the game loaded up, and other titles like Galaxian or Rally-X could be played during other titles’ loading screens. While Namco made fair use of them sparingly, the mini-games were unrelated to the title they were found in. Imagine if you could pick locks during Fallout 4’s loading screens, or do the pipe puzzle of Bioshock between locations? Why not be able to modify your loadouts in Borderlands or Call of Duty during load up, or issue mission commands to your squad in Rainbow Six while the game sets up the map? It could be awesome!

bioshock pipe puzzleThe patent has ended, and a Loading Screen Jam celebration took place recently to rejoice in the occasion. Their intention was in “defiling the patent that held back game design for so many years.” Who knows what the future will bring for game designers, but if they keep their mini-games in tone with the actual title, we could see some fantastic ideas going forward.

What games, off the top of your head, could benefit from a themed mini-game during its loading screens?

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