Microsoft Patents Drop-In/Drop-Out Co-Op

MCV is reporting that Microsoft have registered a patent for a drop-in/drop-out feature in a co-op shooter. The application, which we assume refers to splitscreen rather than online gaming, was made back in December 2002, and has now been approved. The patent refers to a “squad-based shooter video game that allows players to dynamically join and leave the game, while that game is in progress, without the players having to save and restart the game.” In full, then:

A squad-based shooter video game allows players to dynamically join and leave the game, while that game is in progress, without the players having to save and restart the game. When a new player joins an in-progress game, a new squad member is allocated to the new player and the screen is split to present a viewing panel for the new player that depicts scenes from the perspective of the new squad member. When an existing player leaves the game, the screen is unsplit to remove the viewing panel for the exiting player and that player’s squad member becomes part of the squad being controlled by the remaining player(s).

Microsoft’s current main “squad-based” shooter is Gears of War, prompting speculation that Gears of War 3 will feature drop-in/drop-out co-operative gameplay, a feature that will soon be exclusive to Xbox 360 games despite the filing seemingly pointing to Brute Force.  An interesting development nonetheless, and an impressive bullet-point on the back of multi-platform releases in the future – this does mean, if our understanding is correct, that a similar feature will no longer be available in PlayStation 3 titles.  What are your thoughts on this?

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Thanks, LycanGav.

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