Could No Man’s Sky’s Recent Legal Controversy Affect The Release Of The Game?

No Man's Sky
The long-awaited PS4 open universe game No Man’s Sky already survived one lawsuit when it’s developers battled Sky Sports over the use of the word “Sky” in their title and now it looks like they may be on the verge of another legal controversy.

A report has emerged that claims No Man’s Sky developer Hello Games may have used unlicensed technology to develop their upcoming title. The Dutch software company Genicap claims that Hello Games used a version of their “Superformula” computer program to help render the game’s various worlds. The purpose of this technology is to allow a single equation or formula to create various render sequences with minimal input required from the user. The program does sound like it could be easily applied to No Man’s Sky which is advertised to feature over 18 quintillion planets that can take billions of human years to fully explore.

It’s interesting to note that Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray had previously referenced the existence of the Superformula concept in an older interview with New Yorker magazine, but at the time simply noted how the concept would allow a development team to greatly streamline the process of developing procedurally created worlds.

Currently, Genicap does possess a patent on the Superformula concept which they acquired in 2004. At this time they have not stated that they wish to press charges against Hello Games, but did note that they are interested in developing their own game based on the technology and would like to speak to Hello Games regarding this matter. According to the company, they have received no contact from the developer at this time.

What does this mean for the launch of No Man’s Sky? At the moment, it should not affect it as there are no pending legal actions. However, should Genicap decide to pursue legal recourse, it will ultimately come down to whether or not Hello Games really did use a duplicate of the software without permission and whether or not their exact usage of the technology is in violation of the language of the patent.

That last part may end up being the deciding factor as the patent is on the concept itself and may not cover all potential uses of the theory. No Man’s Sky is currently set for release in the US on August 9th, meaning we are likely to hear more about this matter soon.

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Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology. He also writes for IndieGameSource and DenOfGeek, and has his own blog at PixelCritique.com.

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