Electronic Arts has pledged to open the patents for some of its accessibility-related tech, most notably including the Apex Legends' ping system.
In a new press release sent out today, EA said it won’t file infringement lawsuits against developers or companies using tech listed as its patent in their games.
As per the company's "Patents Pledge," five of its patents are being made available for free indefinitely. EA has also promised it would extend this courtesy to any other future accessible technologies it develops, too.
The most high profile of these patents is the Apex Legends ping system, which has been praised for making the game more accessible for players with variuous disabilities, as well as making online gameplay more viable without voice chat. Many other games have already copied this system – so at least now they'll be able to do it properly.
"At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play," said Chris Bruzzo, EA EVP of positive play, commercial, and marketing in the statement. "We can only make that a reality if our video games are accessible to all players. Our accessibility team has long been committed to breaking down barriers within our video games, but we realize that to drive meaningful change, we need to work together as an industry to do better for our players.
“We hope developers will make the most of these patents and encourage those who have the resources, innovation, and creativity to do as we have by making their own pledges that put accessibility first. We welcome collaboration with others on how we move the industry forward together.”
Other patents listed in the pledge are related to vision accessibility – including tools that can modify the colour settings, brightness, and contrast to aid players in seeing specific objects in a game environment more clearly. EA noted that these tools are currently used in both Madden NFL and FIFA.
The final patent being made available targets sound, instead, via a tool that allows users to alter music or sound cues based on their hearing preferences. This is currently not being used in any EA games.
EA has also open-sourced code for colorblindness, brightness, and contrast accessibility on Github.It's nice to see more companies pledge towards making gaming more accessible: this is just the most recent example of companies being more forward-thinking when it comes to accessibility. Elsewhere, we've seen Psychonauts 2 add an invincibility toggle so "all ages, all needs" can enjoy the game; we've seen The Last of Us 2 go above and beyond with its accesibility options; and we've seen Xbox create the truly special Adaptive Controller.