Namco’s twenty-year-old patent from original Ridge Racer finally expires

Devs can now put mini-games on loading screens

Want to add something more interesting than artwork and trivia to your loading screens? Now you can.

Previously, developers were unable to integrate mini-games into their loading screens thanks to a patent filed by Namco. The patent protected the use of auxiliary mini-games while a main game was loading, as demonstrated by the original Ridge Racer, which let users play Galaga while they waited.

Eurogamer reports that this patent expired on November 27th 2015, having been originally filed in 1995, freeing all studios to indulge themselves in distracting mini-games. Several studios have even arranged a Loading Screen Game Jam to mark the occasion.

Of course, some companies have previously found ways around the patent. According to Namco’s claim, auxiliary mini-games are those that are separate or different to the main game. This is why EA was able to include smaller snippets of FIFA challenges in that series’ loading screens.

Nintendo has also experimented with this. Splatoon players are treated to a Doodle Jump-style mini-game while waiting for a multiplayer match to begin, while eShop users can play a tile-matching game on the marketplace’s loading screen.

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