For video game developers, publishers and investors, the most important asset is the intellectual property rights they own or control in the game. All of the elements of a video game — the story, audiovisual elements, underlying computer code and even “gameplay” elements (that specify the way the user interacts with and experiences a game) — are subject to one or more forms of intellectual property protection. Traditionally, intellectual property protection for video games has been based upon either trade secret, copyright or trademark. Patents, however, are quickly becoming an important part of the video game industry.

Many people in the video game industry dislike the idea of patent protection for video games because they believe patents will stifle innovation and hinder the development of the industry. Just as other industries have had to incorporate patents as a form of intellectual property protection, the video game industry must learn to consider, and adapt to, the implications of patent protection for video games.