5 Video Game Patents Ending Soon

Video Game Patents Expiring Soon

YES, video games (or components of them) can be patented. In cases where a game creates a unique and novel approach to gameplay, it can be useful and profitable to patent that design, making it costly for rival companies to successfully emulate that game. Sometimes, alternative solutions can be found that work even better, but in a few rare instances, nothing’s replaced the original design.

Here are five game patents that are expiring soon:

Tekken Game Patent - Game Design ideas

Tekken Combo Tutorials

Expiring October 26th, 2020

What the patent is:

In most fighting games, there’s a practice mode that allows you to test out combos and techniques. In the Tekken series, they have a patent on a system that displays combos, lets the user watch the character perform the combo, and then practice the combo with the screen chiming to indicate a successful press in the sequence.

Essentially, it’s one of the best methods to learn complicated combos.

What the patent expiring means:

Fighting games are now popular with a fairly niche crowd; the time and dedication to get good at the complex combo systems means that at a lower level of skill, random button mashing can be a good strategy. On mobile devices, the problem is compounded; with the controller sharing screen space, these inscrutable combos are essential to keeping the screen from being all UI, no action.

With a simple, fun method to teach and test the player on combos, this genre will definitely get a larger market share in casual markets.  


DDR game pad patent

Dance Dance Revolution Game Pads

Expires August 29th, 2021

What the patent is:

The physical dance pads used to play Dance Dance Revolution.

This is one of the few video game patents that has been litigiously enforced: in 2005, Konami sued Roxor Games over their game “In the Groove”, which was available as a kit that could be applied to the DDR arcade machines ubiquitous in most large arcades. Konami won the case, and Roxor games had to give up rights to both the arcade and home versions of their game “In the Groove”, and manufacturers Red Octane and Mad Catz soon ceased production of home versions of dance pads.

What the patent expiring means:

With the patent expiring, you could sell to arcades new, updated games playable on their old DDR machines, just like Roxor games tried in the past. Likewise, expect 3rd part hardware manufacturers, such as Mad Catz, to start producing home versions of these pads again. Dancing games may make a small resurgence, but expect a flurry of games that use these cheap and easy to manufacture peripherals as a way to enhance AR or VR gameplay, or even use them as the primary controller!


Dynasty Warriors patented gameplay

Dynasty Warriors’ Battle Mechanics

Expiring October 25th, 2021

What the patent is:

The title of the patent describes it best:  Battle method with attack power based on character group density. It’s a unique system that makes Omega Force nearly the only studio around that has made successful crowd-combat fighting games.

What the patent expiring means:

There’s already a large, established audience for this style of game, so expect this to be a game genre that’s going to explode in the next few years!  Large, regularly updated games like Fortnite or League of Legends will likely be the first to include this as a game mode expansion, followed by indie developers riffing on the mechanic. Larger publishers will be the last to pick up on the trend, but when they do, they’ll be looking to buy the popular indie hits before making their own.


Xbox Live Friend List Game invites - Development

Xbox Friend List Game Invites

Expires January 10th, 2026

What the patent is:

From the patent’s abstract, “A user who has signed on to an online gaming service can send an invitation to a friend appearing in the user’s friends list to join in playing the game the user has loaded or may join the friend in playing the game being played by the friend, regardless of whether the game title played by the friend is the same as that loaded on the user’s game console.”

Instead of maintaining a friends list for each game you own, Xbox games only have to worry about one friends list that’s usable across every game. This patent is why Nintendo requires users to input a “friend code” for many of their multiplayer features.

What the patent expiring means:

Every social media platform will have casual multiplayer games playable directly in their messenger services. In the same way that the emerging mobile market suddenly converted a lot of non-gamers into avid players, this will explode multiplayer experiences into the casual space. This feature could be implemented platform-wide or on a per-game basis. 


Rolling-collecting mechanic game design

Katamari Damacy’s Game Mechanics

Expires August 22nd, 2026

What the patent is:

The core mechanic to Katamari Damacy: rolling objects into a ball, and having the ball grow and change shape according to how the objects were rolled into it.

What the patent expiring means:

A simple mechanic, reusable game engine, and easy to swap game assets?  Match-3 games took this formula and dominated casual game markets, and Katamari Damacy clones could do the same.

So be prepared in 2026 for a game invite on Facebook to learn a dance pad combo that rolls your Katamari into a group of enemies.

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