Itch.io to Host Celebratory Loading Screen Jam

Indie game site Itch.io has announced it will host Loading Screen Jam starting this Friday to celebrate the impending expiration of Bandai Namco’s patent on the use of minigames during load screens.

The patent in question, US Patent 5718632, was filed on November 27, 1995 by Namco Ltd. which has since been merged into Bandai Namco. It covered loading an “auxiliary game” for players to mess around with while the main game was being loaded in the background. For a hypothetical example of what that means exactly, next year’s DOOM reboot could load quick snippets of 1993’s DOOM to you play until the next level of the reboot has finished loading. Or rather, that could happen if not for Bandai Namco’s patent. But patents expire after 20 years, so as of this Friday, November 27, 2015, that DOOM scenario will actually be possible.

In celebration of the patent’s expiration, Itch.io is throwing Loading Screen Jam to encourage developers to take advantage of the new freedom. It’s also pulling no punches in its distaste for the patent in the meantime, promising to judge the games favorably on many criteria, including “sheer disrespect to the original patent.” It also lists alternative titles for the game jam such as “Seriously you shouldn’t be able to patent something that basic jam.”

Submissions for the game jam will be accepted from November 27 to December 4.