Microsoft has reportedly registered a patent for a drop-in/drop-out feature in an online co-op shooter.
The application was made to the United States Patent and Trademark Office during the reign of the original Xbox in December 2002, according to Kotaku.
The patent has now been approved, and refers to: A squad-based shooter video games that 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.”
A similar system debuted in Microsoft's Fable II in October last year. The references to a squad-based shooter” have sparked speculation that the feature will appear in the next Gears Of War title.