Namco Bandai has held patent US 5718632 A for going on 20 years. This Patent grants them ownership of the idea for mini game loading screens. Their reign over this patent is finally coming to an end on November 27th, this Friday.
For 2 decades, companies have either had to pay Namco Bandai to use mini games on loading screens, or find ways around it. Mini game loading screens are a great way to keep players occupied, opposed to tip, pic, text, or ad screens. With loading times increasing mini game loading screens seem like the best option.
itch.io is hosting a “Loading Screen Jam.”
itch.io say’s: “US patent 5718632 filed on November 27, 1995 by Namco, forbids the use of interactive loading screens. This patent has held back a ton of creative ideas for so long, and i- what’s that you say? Patents expire after 20 years? 1995, 1996, 1997… woah! It’s 2015! We’re in the clear! Let’s stick it to the man!”
“Loading Screen Jam‘s “theme” is creating interactive loading screens (or anything that infringes on the abstract) and defiling the patent that held back game design for so many years! Create games/interactive material based on infringing the now-defunct patent in any way possible!”
“The games/loading screens made can either be games based around interactive loading, or a game that happens to have an interactive loading screen. The judging will be based on the loading screens themselves (and/or how they tie into your game), subtext/commentary on patents/trademarks that hold back design, and sheer disrespect to the original patent.”
“I’d suggest a game to play while you wait for the jam to “load”, but that could get you in some serious trouble with Namco! See you in November, enjoy staring at this screen until then…”
See more on itch.io’s Loading Screen Jam Here.
If your looking to read more about this wacky patent, David Hoppe wrote a great article on it back in January for gamasutra.com. Check it out here.