Things for Microsoft and its Xbox brand have been holding steady in the console market and there is even recent speculation that we could see the next Xbox within 3 years. It seems that Microsoft may be in some hot water, though, which could affect the company moving forward.
A lawsuit has been filed against Microsoft by Infernal Technologies and Terminal Reality, accusing the company of patent infringement. Terminal Reality is the studio behind games such as Nocturne, BloodRayne, and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The company created the Infernal Engine, which, like many game engines, was then licensed out to other studios for development use. The patents in question are 6,362,822 and 7,061,488. Both patents deal with lighting and shadowing effects.
The lawsuit is stating games that were developed by Microsoft, including big games such as Halo 5, some Forza titles, and Sea of Thieves, infringed on both of the patents. The two companies are claiming that Microsoft has been aware of the technology that the patents involved since at least 2005. There is even evidence to back this up, as Microsoft itself tried to file patents in 2007 for similar tech, but was ultimately rejected due to patents 6,362,822 and 7,061,488 already being in place.
That is not all that backs up Infernal Technologies’ and Terminal Reality’s claims. Back in 2016, Electronic Arts tried to contest the existing patents in an attempt to take credibility away from the companies in their case against EA. As with Microsoft’s patent claims almost a decade before, EA’s claims were thrown out and the company had to agree to a settlement.
There’s no information in regards to how this will affect Microsoft’s ability to develop games or what it will mean for the games already released that allegedly infringed on the patents. In past lawsuits involving game engines either being misused or used without permission, the results for the companies that lost were devastating. Silicon Knights saw this with Too Human, when it lost a lawsuit against Epic games over the Unreal Engine. The company was forced to recall any unsold, brand new copies of the game from store shelves, and pull it from digital storefronts, as well.
Only time will tell how this will affect Microsoft moving forward. As of now, no dates have been set for the case to appear in front of a judge. The official filing can be found here.