After years of failed attempts, Warner Bros. finally acquired a patent for its Nemesis System, found in Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The feature centered around allowing enemies to move up in a hierarchy after killing the player in battle.
While it could be seen a positive for the company, indie devs and other industry figures saw this patent as a worry for people using similar or near-identical systems in their games.
NEMESIS HAS MADE SOME NEMESES
It might not go anywhere, but the likes of game designer, Mike Bithell, still notes it as “really gross” considering the system isn’t even fully unique and is an amalgamation of other gameplay features.
Others, like Riot Games’ Cat Manning had more of an issue with the broadness of the patent than anything else. The wording made her a bit fearful to even make a system that comes even a stick’s length close to the Nemesis System in fear of retaliation from WB.
This isn’t a new attempt, though. WB has been making efforts to get it patented since 2015, but it was using other systems to make itself stand out and that proved to be the downfall of its initial attempts to get patented. Its odd and long-winded submissions fell too close to other patents from the likes of Square Enix, QONQR, and of all games, Webkinz.
The similarities led to the US Patent and Trademark Office promptly rejecting their submissions until earlier this week where its wording was just distinct enough to differentiate itself from its peers.
Obviously, gameplay features and systems have been patented before, but a lot of the time it’s swept under the rug when they are technically infringed upon. BioWare, for example, has a patent on the dialog wheel found in the Mass Effect franchise. Bethesda’s 2015 release of Fallout 4, though, included a rather similar dialog wheel that if desired, BioWare could pursue in court.
As it stands, it’s hard to tell if Warner Bros. Interactive will go above and beyond to “protect” its Nemesis System patent.