Bandai Namco’s patent on loading screen mini games is about to expire

Load times are probably going to be much less of an issue soon

Videogames have certainly come on leaps and bounds over the years, but one obstacle that still exists is the dreaded loading screen. Often the solution has been to put game hints and tips or pieces of lore onto these screens for players to read, but when you’ve been playing for a long time and these once novel and useful pieces of information naturally begin to recycle,they quickly become more annoying than a blank screen might have been as you read the same sentence over and over, just waiting to be able to play.

Bandai Namco actually came up with a neat solution to this problem in the 90s by developing fun mini games that you could play whilst you waited for the main event. However, we were never able to see this in any other games because for twenty years Bandai Namco has held a patent which game them ownership of this idea. Frankly, they didn’t do nearly enough with it to justify their having it. Fortunately, on November 27th this patent expires.

This is pretty exciting; before now developers that wanted to use mini games in load screens had to give Namco money or opt for the less interactive option of giving players information to read. Now we might actually begin to see fun mini games appear in our load screens over the next few years. This is an opportunity for game designers to get even more creative with every little aspect of the games they make.

In celebration of the patent expiring there’s going to be a Loading Screen Jam, in which developers are being asked to “Create games/interactive material based on infringing the now-defunct patent in any way possible!”

It’ll probably be a while before we see these minigames integrated into bigger game releases since developers were actually not allowed to even develop mini games in anticipation of the patent ending as that would be a violation of it. Considering this, there’s no way any developers will have any ready to go, but it’s definitely a new element of games to look forward to! I guess for now we just have to, well, wait, like a real-life loading screen.


Image via 8bitscubed