Konami Once Held A Patent For Transparent Walls In Video Games

Patents are an essential means of protecting those individuals or companies which innovate and come up with new ideas, but they can sadly also have negative consequences – and if you speak to Japanese developers of a particular age, one name crops up more regularly than any other when it comes to patents: Konami.

During the creation of his epic Untold History of Japanese Game Developers series, gaming historian and Time Extention contributor John Szczepaniak spoke to Takato Yoshinari of Success Corporation and alluded to the fact that Alfa System's shmup Shikegami no Shiro cloned the "Buzz" mechanic from Success' Psyvariar.

Yoshinari admitted that the idea probably was copied but said he had no intention of taking any legal action. "I do not believe we should be patenting methods and ideas, or filing lawsuits against developers who innovate based on the work of others," he told Szczepaniak, citing Konami as an example of how this practice damages the industry as a whole. "In Japan, the game maker that is most aggressive about protecting their ideas is Konami. Personally, I am extremely opposed to the way Konami operates."

Szczepaniak later discovered that Konami had previously filed multiple patents in Japan, one of which covered the use of transparent walls in 3D games – and spoke to games journalist and localiser Casey Loe for more insight:

Konami holds a number of overly broad patents in Japan, but one in particular is infamous in the game industry. Strangely, this doesn't seem to have ever been reported in the Western media.

You know how in 3D games with a free camera, when a wall comes between the camera and your character, typically the wall becomes transparent? In Japan - and only in Japan - Konami held and aggressively defended a patent on that technique for 20 years, before it finally expired in 2016. This patent was utterly despised in Japan, especially by fans of the Monster Hunter series, who have identified it as the reason for the game's often-disorienting camera movement.
Some consider this patent to be part of the reason that Japanese 3D games have been less competitive worldwide.

Konami also holds a variety of patents on music games that many feel give them a stranglehold over the entire genre. They have filed numerous lawsuits against rival music-game makers, including Jaleco, Namco, and most famously Harmonix.

One game which makes good use of this technique is Die Hard Trilogy on the PS1. During the 'Die Hard' section of the game, walls vanish smoothly as the character moves around the environment, allowing the player to get a good view of what's happening.

The patent was filed in May 1996 under the reference number H08-120607, but it seems that it expired in 2016, and a web link detailing the patent is now dead.

Related Forum: Gaming Discussion

Source: https://www.timeextension.com/news/2024/05/konami-once-held-a-patent-for-transparent-walls-in-video-games


"Konami Once Held A Patent For Transparent Walls In Video Games" :: Login/Create an Account :: 2 comments

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geez, they had the patent for that for so long

but it was a really great patent fr


That's kind of crazy but there are the OGs of gaming