What is Microsoft’s “Gunpowder?” Good question. We’re asking ourselves the same thing.
On January 15, a trademark application was submitted by Microsoft to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for something called “Gunpowder.” This being a mere trademark application, details on what exactly it applies to are scant, but we do know a few things. First, the application lists Gunpowder as a piece of “game software,” so we don’t need concern ourselves that this thing might be a new peripheral or that long-awaited Microsoft-branded handheld gaming device that will probably never exist. Second, we have the following description of Gunpowder’s intended purpose: “entertainment services, namely, providing online video games.”
That’s not much to go on, is it? Initially we’d thought that Gunpowder was simply a new video game or franchise that Microsoft would be introducing in the near future, but the claim that Gunpowder is capable of “providing online video games” sounds very intriguing. This could simply be a reference to a game that features online multiplayer components, but if that’s the case the description seems oddly specific in its wording. The other idea we’ve had is that Gunpowder might be an integral part of the online gaming strategy for Microsoft’s next Xbox, but in truth that concept is mostly rooted in a lack of solid facts and the timing of this trademark’s appearance. Microsoft is putting its console together at this point, so it stands to reason that as new ideas are pitched and accepted by the development team that the corporation backing them would attempt to trademark/patent anything it sees as potentially valuable.
We probably won’t receive an accurate picture of what Gunpowder actually refers to until Microsoft opts to unveil its next swath of big projects. At the latest we’d expect everything to become clear at this year’s E3 conference. In the mean time, we invite you to offer your own theories in the comments below.