The video games industry is one of the most prominent sectors in the entertainment industry when it comes to demonstrating sustained and rapid growth.
In Malaysia, market size for the gaming industry is projected to increase from approximately 209 million USD to 806 million USD from 2017 to 2027 — a compound annual growth rate of nearly 10.7% within 10 years.
Consistent growth in the gaming industry reflects the increasing demand for products and services within the sector. Gaming developers are meeting this demand by adopting new innovations to increase competitive advantage within a growing market, which in turn, intellectual property (IP) strategies are put into place to protect the innovations, designs and technologies paramount to their success.
Each video game comprising of its very own title, characters, plot and other artistic elements is unique in its own right. For companies to monetize upon this uniqueness as much as possible, IP protection is required to prevent third parties from ripping off creative ideas and dissolving a carefully built brand identity. Under IP protection, developers will possess the full legal rights to the video games produced, including the distribution, licensing and sale of said games.
Trademarks in the Gaming Industry
The names, titles, logos, colours and catchphrases of video game products and services can be protected via trademark registration. In other words, elements making up the brand identity of your gaming company are mostly protectable under trademarks. The registration of trademarks is key to building a strong brand which helps increase and retain consumers in the market.
For example, life simulation games the Sims is most recognisable by consumers through the green diamond logo, which is trademarked as an image by parent company Electronic Arts (EA).
Copyrights in the Gaming Industry
Creative elements in video games such as soundtracks, cinematography, videography, storylines, plots and characters are automatically protected under copyrights in the class of literary and artistic works.
Developers will need to produce the product, or the video game, in a fixed form (e.g. digital video game) to be awarded automatic copyright protection as creative ideas in itself which are not produced in a fixed form cannot be protected by IP law.
Patents in the Gaming Industry
The mechanics, systems, rules and technological solutions of a game are protected by patents in IP law. Game patents can last up to 20 years and allows the owners to produce, distribute and license technological elements of the game to third parties for commercial purposes.
Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are some examples of patents most regularly filed by gaming developers as each company seeks to protect their very own technological process. Game engines (e.g. Roblox Studio for Roblox) and game devices (e.g. SonyPlayStation 5) are further examples of patented technologies within the gaming sector.
As the video games industry continues to grow at a sustained pace, intellectual property protection will evolve to be increasingly prominent in the gaming sector as developers seek to protect innovations and technological advancements in the industry.