The Patent On Loading Screen Mini-Games Is About To Expire

The Patent On Loading Screen Mini-Games Is About To Expire

For twenty years, Namco Bandai has held patent US 5718632 A, which has given them ownership of the idea of a loading screen minigame. On November 27 (in America, so tomorrow for us), that patent expires.

This is a big deal! For two decades, companies that wanted to keep players busy during load times (like Ridge Racer’s amazing Galaga) either had to pay Namco, find ways around it (as EA’s FIFA series has) or…give up and go back to writing a ton of boring tips and lore screens for people to read.

Come Friday though it’s open season. To celebrate, there’ll be a Loading Screen Jam held, asking developers to “Create games/interactive material based on infringing the now-defunct patent in any way possible!”

Don’t go expecting minigames to start turning up in bigger games quite so quickly, though. The patent forbids people from even working on minigames, let alone implementing them, so it might take a while to get them ready.

If you want to read more about the inherent weirdness of Namco having been granted this patent, David Hoppe wrote this thing in February which will help you out.


  • Wonder if Nintendo had to pay for that with splatoon, given its a seperate screen and the same mini game is accessible elsewhere?

  • ive always said that Destiny should have had a space invaders style minigame what with the amount of time it takes to load.

    games could even support savestates so you can continue your progression each time!

    bloodborne could even have a really basic 2d sidescroller slash em up!

    • I’m usually in the menus mucking about with gear, so unless it’s unusually long, I don’t really notice the time pass.

  • I always thought this wasn’t done because it would screw with loading times. This explains a lot.

  • Every time I hit a loading screen I just whip out my phone and surf the internet until it’s done. I think with most people having multiple devices in their homes I don’t think the loading screen minigame will make a big comeback.

    I still dig the Castlevania: SotN loading screen. I still remember pouring minutes of my time into making it dance around!

    New Topic Best Loading Screen Evar! 😛

  • This world is stupid!

    How can you patent something as vague as “loading screen mini game” ?

    • Exactly what I was thinking. A specific mini game I could understand, but just ‘mini games in loading screens’ is insanely broad

  • I wonder how rayman legends worked. In between loading you could control rayman to occasionally try and hit a heart container for use int eh game proper. What actually defined a minigame?

    • Yeah, then Bayonetta allowed you to practice combos while loading and Disgaea 5 had interactive things on their load screens too. It might be that they don’t fall under the definition of “game”.

  • I find it kind of funny that games still have long enough loading screens to make it worthwhile to have minigames.

  • Am just suprised this patent even exists

    I’ve honestly always wondered why games don’t throw more into the loading screens after playing the one in ridge racer. Now I know, and I’m excited to see where it goes now

  • DIudnt know that was a patent, more surprised it stuck. Video game industry is full of clones, and standard gane mechanics for genres.. yet this patent managed to Iast 20 years without being destroyed in court.

  • In 20 years what has namco actually gained from having that patent?

    Like it was cool that Tekken 5 opened with some sort of shoot em up while the disc is loading buying can’t see that they’ve made any gains from having exclusive rights to that

  • My fave loading screen was in Shaun White Snowboarding. It was a half pipe in a white void ala assassins creed. Trick out till the loading stopped.

  • This explains those Dragon Ball loading screens, and why I never saw anything like that anywhere else.

  • Patent expires just as loading screens virtually disappear! Well played..

    I cant remember the last time I got shitty with a loading time?

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