Warner Brothers Interactive have finally managed to secure the patent for the Nemesis System used in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. Both of these games were developed by Monolith Entertainment and published by WB Interactive.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the patent will go into effect on 23 February 2021 and will allow WB Interactive to maintain the rights until 2035, provided they pay the fees.
The full documentation for the patent can be read here, but the gist of it is that WB Interactive wants to lay legal claim to a system featuring procedurally generated NPCs that exist in a hierarchy and interact with and will remember the actions of the player. It also covers these NPCs’ appearances being affected by the player, and other NPCs taking their place in the hierarchy.
The patent also covers the Social Conquest battles from Shadow of War, which lets players pit their armies of orcs against each other and attack or defend strongholds.
WB Interactive has been trying to acquire this patent since 2015. The claim was rejected several times for several reasons including similarity to other patents.
After the patent comes into effect, any developer wishing to incorporate similar features into their games will need to pay for the license from WB Interactive.
The Nemesis System received praise after the release of Shadow of Mordor. But now, the chances of it appearing in other, similar games is much less. This patent also potentially puts a financial gateway between small studios and their full creative vision.