Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Filing suit follow up

Seems everyone is discussing the bit of news from yesterday in some manner.
MMOExperience, Tish Tosh and Broken Toys, with more to follow I am sure.

Worlds.com is throwing around a bit of weight with a patent that could really change the face of the MMO genre.
Broken Toys gets quite meaty with the subject, explaining about a legal system in the big ole state of Texas that seems to be unfair to many of the defendants of various cases.
This could explain the NCSoft reasoning of becoming the first target...
As he notes from another site..

“Being a foreign defendant in Texas is not a pleasant thing,” he said of NCsoft, which is primarily a Korean company. “The juries are, many would say, biased towards American plaintiffs and have a propensity to offer high damages. Some defendants might view them as an unfriendly jury and it might make the defendant more likely to settle.”

Ouch. But, lets not forget about the monetary issues NCSoft is feeling at this time. And worse how at this time in the Economy, and how a frivolous suit like this could lead to closure for a company if costs skyrocket.
Tish Tosh notes..

"NCSoft is over a barrel, at least Stateside, and makes for a much easier target than Blizzard"

How true.

But, this started me down the path toward finding out if there is any alternative means to running an MMO without the features noted by Worlds in their patent.
Could this change the way MMO's charge fee's? Could costs go up if all companies have to pay the license fee?
Or could these offerings be "Not for profit", and the companies offer alternative means to make cash. Like offering voice chat, and then suggesting alternate means to type (which would bypass the main gist of the patent)?
If a player uses VOIP in game, and say XFire to talk by text...how does that affect the patent lawsuit? And the server/client is say...free?

Mind you this is one of the two patents though. This patent was filed in 2000.
This explains about a virtual space and tracking the location of an "Avatar" and rendering objects to display to that character in a 3d space.
Yea..in so many words, ALL MMO's.
But, the date has issues with "Prior Art" for MMO's, with Lineage being noted by Adingworld in my previous post's comments hitting in 1998 (which covers NCSofts butt).

This patent is more bothersome

Filed in 1996, this one is more encompassing, and includes location data and communications.

Crude drawings accompany this patent, and it seems to be precise in how it works. And unless NCSoft can show some alternate means of communicating this data on their servers, they will be toast.

There is no doubt this will change everything. I may have been more precise in my predictions than I thought when I stated 2009 would be "The year of the single player game".


Tesh said...

Credit where credit is due, the only reason I'm following this is because you posted the link. ;)

It will be interesting to see where things go from here. I'd be all for companies innovating a bit to get around the limitations of a successful case from Worlds.com.

Heck, WoW plays like a solo/small group game much of the time anywho. Altering it to reflect that, as well as the business model, would make me happy.

Anonymous said...

If the patent had been very specific in some way to implement some part of a client/server solution for it might have been more reasonable.

But now it is a bit like someone is claiming that they have patented breaks on a car - not a specific solution for breaks, but breaks in general. And they specify that it might be implemented in in a number of different ways and any decent car mechanic will understand the concept they describe and can put breaks on a car.

Danshir said...

I emailed Worlds.com today Edge, Gonna see if they will have a brief little interview with me to defend their position. If they accept, gonna post up the transcript. Will keep ya posted on what they say *one way or the other*.

Anonymous said...

@Danshir: It may be worth trying. I suspect that anyone besides the legal people are forbidden to say anything though.