Nintendo applies for 'massively single-player' patent

Nintendo has claimed a patent for a "massively single-playing online game," covering the ability to play a SP game while impacting the game world or experience for other players.

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Nintendo has dipped its toes in the online gaming pool again, this time with a bizarre-sounding patent for a "massively single-playing online game." In the patent initially filed in early 2010, Nintendo describes the idea as a game in which one player's actions affect the environment for other players, but each are essentially playing a single-player experience.

GameSpot reports that Nintendo's aim is to provide the benefits of online gaming without some of its drawbacks. "Those who want to play games that are more dynamic, not-based on AI and not-pre-scripted like multiplayer games, however, don't want to 'deal' with other people, appreciate the privacy it provides."

Nintendo suggests a few examples: a dynamic in-game economy in which individuals could impact the supply and demand; or one player building a house out of a pile of lumber, leading another player to find the house instead of the lumber. Nintendo even suggests "gossip" could pass from player to player. If the two have "friended" each other, Nintendo suggests they could see and interact with each other more directly.

Perhaps most strangely, Nintendo claimed this could be used on "a home video game system such as the Nintendo Wii 3D video game system, a Nintendo DS or other 3D capable interactive computer graphics display system." This was probably filed before Nintendo announced the 3DS, though, so we could chalk it up to the company not wanting to show its hand.

We've seen similar gameplay mechanics before. GameSpot compares the concept to the neighbors in Nintendo's own Animal Crossing series. We've also seen single-player game interaction in titles like Demon's Souls, and the term "asynchronous multiplayer" has become popular in mobile games. We'll have to see how broadly the patent office interprets Nintendo's claim to the idea, as other companies are bound to continue exploring the concept.

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  • reply
    August 15, 2011 7:45 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Nintendo applies for 'massively single-player' patent.

    Nintendo has claimed a patent for a "massively single-playing online game," covering the ability to play a SP game while impacting the game world or experience for other players.

    • reply
      August 15, 2011 7:49 AM

      Didn't Spore use the term 'Massively Singleplayer' ?

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        August 15, 2011 8:12 AM

        That was the first thing that came to my mind, as well. This seems like a very silly thing to patent, anyway ... I like Nintendo, but I hope it's declined. :\

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      August 15, 2011 7:52 AM

      it would be interesting to play a game where the world changed and you could not tell the difference between NPCs and real world players.

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      August 15, 2011 7:53 AM

      that is absurd. Why does that deserve a patent?

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        August 15, 2011 7:56 AM

        When you can't innovate, try and make sure other's can't. What's the last good, quality, original IP that came out of Nintendo?

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          August 15, 2011 8:00 AM

          Wii Sports Resort?

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          August 15, 2011 8:46 AM

          dunno, I haven't touched nintendo hardware for years, and I have no intention to any time soon.

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          August 15, 2011 10:01 AM

          Xenoblade?

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          August 15, 2011 3:24 PM

          There are a lot of reasons to critisize Nintendo, but I really don't see lack of innovation as one of them. You're just being silly.

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        August 15, 2011 9:36 AM

        If they didn't get a patent, some idiot would do it and sue Nintendo.

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          August 15, 2011 9:42 AM

          If Nintendo actually does what the patent seeks to protect before others get the patent, at least Nintendo's implementation of the idea will serve as prior art to invalidate any attacks against them.

          Nintendo simply wants to protect "their" idea, as overly broad as it may be, and give themselves a competitive advantage.

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            August 15, 2011 9:47 AM

            Technically a lot of those things are already available in some of their animal crossing games. That being said, I think other devs have done this as well. It should fall under "obvious" or something at this point. Too much prior art.

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              August 15, 2011 9:50 AM

              No doubt. I just wish that the patent office did a more exhaustive investigation regarding prior art or non-obviousness.

              Software patents are indeed a problematic area given the rapid changes and rampant innovation. It's almost an area that doesn't need as much protection simply by how fast innovations occur.

    • reply
      August 15, 2011 7:55 AM

      Aren't there already games that are similar to this? The first game that comes to mind is Demon's Souls, which the article even mentions. It's not completely single-player, but it overwhelmingly is.

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      August 15, 2011 8:01 AM

      Yay patents! Not satisfied with sucking out a lot of the real innovation in traditional software, now they are coming to games! Now the big studios will be able to infringe and then cross-license, and ultimately just spend a lot more of their money on lawyers while the indies will find that their main competitive advantage (clever original gameplay) will be threatened and constrained. Don't worry though, I'm sure there will be a lot of "Progress of Science and useful Arts".

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      August 15, 2011 8:13 AM

      can you still describe your epic RPG as a massive single-player game?

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      August 15, 2011 8:54 AM

      Sounds like Demon Souls.

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        August 15, 2011 9:10 AM

        Yeah, all this stuff sounds like it's been done before by them and other devs.

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        August 15, 2011 9:47 AM

        yeah. this is the first game i thought of. the single and multiplayer aspects are pretty blurred together in that game.

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        August 15, 2011 4:33 PM

        I'll be surprised if From Software doesn't step up and tell them to fuck off with this application.

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        August 15, 2011 4:51 PM

        Nintendo's application may be different enough to get around it.

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          August 15, 2011 4:55 PM

          And if they can sell it, Animal Crossing might get them in the door as an earlier work than DS.

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      August 15, 2011 9:19 AM

      What the hell are they even talking about. A single player game with multi-player aspects? It's just a game.

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        August 15, 2011 4:58 PM

        What the hell does this post even mean.

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          August 30, 2011 3:20 AM

          It means that they are making a single player game, with some aspects of multi-player. How is that any different to other games? I don't see whats so different about the examples they give that make it need a special title. And "Massively Single Player" just sounds fucking stupid.

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      August 15, 2011 9:47 AM

      the hell does even mean. shit is getting more and more orwellian by the day.

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      August 15, 2011 9:49 AM

      Incoming new Monster Hunter game.

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        August 15, 2011 9:58 AM

        I sure hope so, MHT was my introduction to the series and it was awesome, it's a Capcom property though I think.

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        August 15, 2011 11:15 AM

        don't play with my emotions like this

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      August 15, 2011 10:02 AM

      always connected DRM? PREORDER CANCELED

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      August 15, 2011 4:28 PM

      Well, I guess I won't be making that dream cyberpunk SP game that allows you to create "out-of-game" ponzi schemes.

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      August 15, 2011 4:29 PM

      prior art will kill any suit they file