Overwatch Play of the Game Patent Attempted by Blizzard

Blizzard makes Play of the Game difficult in their game, Overwatch, and now they are trying to make it difficult to achieve in other games. According to a recently published case at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Blizzard is attempting to patent the Overwatch Play of the Game system. The patent has not been granted but it has been listed as “Ready for Examination.” Keep in mind that it could take years to get granted if it even goes through.

Blizzard originally filed the patent (enter the application number, “15/374523,” in the search bar here) in December 2016 but it was published in June 2018. The abstract of the patent sounds specific but ultimately vague when considering how another system like this would be executed. If some other game were to implement a Play of the Game-like feature, it would most likely aggregate the winner in a similar way.

It outlines how a winner would be selected after a “game server records events that occur within a match of a video game” then “scores the events according to a plurality of criteria.” It then “selects a play of the game category and determines the top aggregated score for that category” before it then finally “sends one or more instructions to the game clients which causes the game clients to display a replay of the events that occurred.”

Essentially, the abstract states that if a game records the match, scores it based on certain actions, aggregates the points, picks a winner, and then shows it to the players, it would be violating the proposed patent. However, actual game mechanics are hard to patent, given that they could be considered “abstract ideas.” Borrowing ideas is not the same as borrowing the game’s code, which is easier to codify as something worthy of protecting.

Bethesda suing Warner Bros. is a different story since they’re alleging that Warner Bros. physically copied code from Fallout Shelter for their Westworld mobile game. Not only do they look alike, but Westworld has similar bugs and animations from Fallout Shelter, which helps bolster their case that actual code was stolen. Developer Behaviour Interactive developed Westworld and co-developed Fallout Shelter, giving more credence to Bethesda’s claims.

The patent also gives light on how Blizzard might be trying to enhance the Overwatch Play of the Game system. The document lists the ability to highlight players, adjust clip speed, apply filters, insert an intro, and add “textual or graphical overlays to the video clip.” Blizzard has only briefly talked about their plans for Play of the Game 2.0, which vaguely included these listed camera tricks, but hasn’t said much as of late.