Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment has finally managed to secure a patent for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War’s Nemesis System. The US Patent and Trademark Office released the approval for the in-game system on 3 February 2021 claiming that the patent will go into effect on 23 February this year. Warner Bros. then has the option to keep the patent theirs until 2035 as long as they keep up with the payments.
The patent covers the developer’s “Nemesis System” which according to the filing includes “Nemesis characters, nemesis forts, social vendettas and followers in computer games”. The long and short – this patent protects the Nemesis System from being used in other video games. It covers a system featuring procedurally-generated NPCs that exist in a hierarchy and interacts with the player. In addition, these NPCs remember the actions of the players and have their appearance/actions altered by the player.
This hierarchy changes and can affect the position of other NPCs in the tree. In addition, the patent overs Social Conquest battles from Shadow of War which is basically when a player fortifies or attacks another player’s stronghold against their army.
If you have played Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor or Shadow of War in the past then this will sound familiar. The series features an in-game system unlike any other seen in a video game to date. It is unique to the series and has not been replicated elsewhere. Well, it can’t be now that the patent belongs to Warner Bros.
This approval is good news for the company too. Warner Bros. originally tried to file the patent back in 2015. They had to resubmit, alter and revise the application multiple times in order to receive the approval. This was mainly due to the conflict with other similar patents held by Square Enix and its mobile game QONQR. Developer are free to create their own take on the Nemesis System if they want. However, they may face some legal issues if they come close to Warner Bros’. patent.
It is unclear whether or not Warner Bros. plans on using this Nemesis System in any upcoming games. There’s no sign of a new Middle-earth game anywhere. However, now that they own the patent, we are sure they plan on using it.