Microsoft patents drop-in/out co-op shooters

Tuesday, 21st July 2009 08:13 GMT By Mike


This is a strange one, but it appears Microsoft has patented the ability to drop-in and out of co-op games – think Gears of War.

Patent #7,559,834 was invented by a James York back in 2002 but it was assigned to Microsoft on July 14th 2009.

It reads:

Dynamic join/exit of players during play of console-based video game


A squad-based shooter video game allows players to dynamically join and leave the game, while that game is in progress, without the players having to save and restart the game. When a new player joins an in-progress game, a new squad member is allocated to the new player and the screen is split to present a viewing panel for the new player that depicts scenes from the perspective of the new squad member. When an existing player leaves the game, the screen is unsplit to remove the viewing panel for the exiting player and that player’s squad member becomes part of the squad being controlled by the remaining player(s).

However, if you think that now no other company can use this technique, the patent does strictly say that it is only for squad-based shooters.

Thanks, Kotaku.



  1. frostquake

    OH FREAKING GREAT so now gaming industry will have to shell out more money if you make a drop in drop out game…AND WE ALL SAY…OH well there never ever was a Cat so clever as Magical Mister Microsoft…GREED GREED GREED!!!

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Mike

    Last para says “squad-based shooters” only, dude. :)

    #2 6 years ago
  3. Blerk

    What? Stuff like this is just idiotic.

    #3 6 years ago
  4. NiceFellow

    Seems stupid to be able to patent something like this. No technology involved, no details, just the basic concept.

    US patent system has some serious flaws that encourage both patent trolls and attempts to block out competition through vague patents.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. rainer

    This has happened before, remember Doom & iD plus Creative Labs patenting some shadowing mechanism I believe.

    Carmack stated that patenting game development methods was a very bad thing for the industry but luckily the games industry has avoided the plague of software patents for the most part.

    I see it two ways MS which is software patent happy is going after a new revenue stream but this could really piss off the game development community.

    Or MS is grabbing the patents to protect itself from suits which it is a frequent target of but they wont actually enforce the patent.

    #5 6 years ago
  6. DrDamn

    Stupid – though doesn’t the split screen specifics mean this would also only apply to local co-op rather than online?

    #6 6 years ago
  7. No_PUDding

    I wonder how much more awesome this world would be if we had no patents?

    A lot more I guess. But there wouldn’t be racialist stabbings, it would be violent inventors, you’d watch out for on dark nights.

    #7 6 years ago
  8. Hunam

    Sounds like it’s for local only, I doubt they could patent the online variant as Haze does exactly that, drop in/out of squad members escorting player 1.

    #8 6 years ago
  9. Mike

    Only granted last week though, innit.

    I think anyway.

    #9 6 years ago
  10. DrDamn

    That wasn’t the point. The text is all about local play and split screen – nothing to do with online.

    #10 6 years ago
  11. Mike

    Fair play. I’ll take it out.

    #11 6 years ago
  12. DrDamn

    Ta – It’s still an interesting patent – but quite restrictive in the details. For example – do many games use the same assets for full screen and split screen? Most tend to restrict the graphical assets a little to allow for the use of split screen so wouldn’t be able to switch between split and full easily. I noticed the Zombie co-op mode in CoD5 does something similar – but it’s not a squad based game.

    The switch of control of the extra squad mate is also very specific and easy to work round if you want to do something similar and avoid patent issues.

    #12 6 years ago
  13. dirigiblebill

    Probably worth sticking “local only” in the headline, then.

    #13 6 years ago
  14. fearmonkey

    Nah, they got it to cover themsleves Im sure. After all, the patent did belong to someone else, and they could have been sued for it. I can’t imagine MS suing other developers for infringing on it. If they tried that, the fallout from that would be historic.

    #14 6 years ago

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