EA is making its five accessibility-related technology patents — including the ping system from Apex Legends — freely available for use by anyone, even its competitors.
In an announcement today, the publisher said it was making a “Patents Pledge,” promising to make five of its patents available for free and without repercussion to anyone who wishes to use them indefinitely, as well as future accessible technologies it develops.
Effectively, this means any of these five patents can be used by other developers, competitors, or others without the worry of being sued by EA.
The most notable of the five patents EA is making available is the ping system from Apex Legends, which was lauded at the game’s launch for allowing players to communicate easily with one another in-game. The system was praised for making Apex more accessible for players with hearing, speaking, or cognitive disabilities.
EA Accessibility Patents Pledge Example Screenshots
Three other patents are related to vision accessibility and include tech that detects and modifies the colors, brightness, and contrast in a game to improve object visibility. This tech is currently included in the Madden NFL and FIFA franchises.
The fifth patent is not currently being used in any EA games but is related to personalized sound technology to assist players with hearing issues. With it, players can create or modify music based on their hearing preferences.
In addition to these, EA is open-sourcing code for colorblindness, brightness, and contrast accessibility in digital content. This code is being made available on GitHub.
“At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play,” said Chris Bruzzo, EA EVP of positive play, commercial, and marketing. “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.”
The games industry has been undergoing a growing push for more accessible technology, features, games, and hardware in recent years, notably with Xbox’s unveiling of its Adaptive Controller several years ago and ongoing pushes for accessibility with its hardware and software on its platforms since. More recently, disabled gamers initiative AbleGamers raised $1 million for its initiatives to support accessible gaming for everyone.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.