Electronic Arts has announced a Patent Pledge that gives its competitors completely free access to its current accessibility-related technology and innovations without the threat of legal action. Which is nice!
The publisher hopes that the pledge, which it says is the first of its kind in the video game sphere, will encourage innovation within accessibility-related technology from other companies who are now free to build upon some of the foundations EA has already laid down.
Chris Bruzzo, EA's EVP of Positive Play, Commercial and Marketing, said in the press release that the long-term goal here is to make games accessible to all players, a goal that can only be achieved if the industry works together to drive meaningful change:
“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 pledge currently incorporates five existing patents which include some of EA's most innovative tech, one of which is Apex Legends' excellent ping system. Respawn's superlative shooter has received a ton of praise since release for this innovative system, which makes communication and teamwork quick and easy without the need for headsets or mics, giving players with cognitive disabilities the opportunity to get fully involved by providing alternate means for them to interact with teammates.
The ping system has also been lauded for its positive effects on in-game toxicity, reducing the need for gamers to communicate verbally thus removing a means for problem players to become abusive.
Three other patents involved in the pledge relate to technology widely used in the FIFA and Madden NFL franchises, innovations that automatically detect and modify colours and contrast in order to improve visibility for gamers with vision issues.
With EA also open-sourcing code for tech that addresses colour-blindness, brightness and contrast issues, as well as including a further patent involving personalised sound tech for players with hearing issues, the move seems like a really positive step forward for the industry with regards to accessibility going forward. Chris Bruzzo added that:
“We are always listening to our players so we can understand where there are unmet needs we need to deliver for. It’s important to us that everyone feels welcome in our games, and that level of inclusion has to be rooted in community feedback. These technologies exist to help more people around the world experience great games, and we’re very proud of the role our community plays in driving innovations that can make a difference.”
Which games do you think could benefit from the Ping System? Let us know below.
*All innovation owned by EA.
Inb4 the usual 'omg, EA are bad, this is such a surprise', even though they have been implementing positive changes and moving away from their previous failings for years now.
Those bandwagons are mighty difficult to get off aren't they...
@Noisy_neighbour Agreed. That Battlefront 2 nonsense was their nadir, but I think they've been doing a pretty good job since.
I dunno, the yearly releases of the same rehashed sports games ( at full price ) which are laden with microtransactions is still enough to make me hate them
That sounds right up my street, real-time comms without the need to actually hear online gamers. I'll have to give that a try.
Well done EA, nobody benefits from game mechanics being locked behind patents
Is there a reason they couldn't just release the patents in to the public domain? Rather than just promise not to sue?
@shinobi87 This guy gets it. It's going to take a lot more than this to change my incredibly negative perception of EA.
I'd like World of Tanks to try out that ping system, I doubt most players will use it though, since very few use the current
Oh man this is so cool of them, they are so good for the gaming world. /s Full stop on the sarcasm. Who cares, their ping system like everything else about EA is trash. The only good they could do for gaming is to drop their patents on old games and let a less greedy crap company make them.
I don't thing gameplay mechanics should be patented at all, accessibility or not, but it's at least something.
The ping is cool though. As someone that just can't stand voice chat in games (I came from quake 1's real era where if you had something to day, you furiously typed it!) and just dislike the idea of voice chatting with players. It's one of Splatoon's appeals to me. Makes Apex almost appealing.
Should never have been pattented to begin with. Nothing to do with accessibility should be allowed to be pattented and walled off from other game developers.
@Noisy_neighbour I mean it's been only 2 years since EA defended their predatory lootboxes as "surprise mechanics" before the UK parliament. That said they have definitely improved compared to the past but that was a low bar to begin with.
@Richnj I'd imagine they're giving free rights to use the innovations in the patents but not the actual code to implement it. The code itself would have to be quite specific to the game its used in and couldn't easily just be dropped in from one game to another.
That said, it does raise the possibility of someone developing an open version of it that could be dropped into Unreal Engine or Unity or similar without infringing anything.
Pretty cool move! How is the ping system in Apex Legends different from the one in something like League of Legends though? I haven’t really played it much.
Gotta love when large companies spin PR as goodwill gestures. Is their corporate legal department now suddenly the only one with a heart for humanity? Pfff, get real
Fortnite should use it cuz there ping system is crap.
@NEStalgia I agree, I don't do voice chat and the ping system gives me everything I could ever need.
Apex ping system is great, I really can't imagine playing a multiplayer action game without one now. I don't think anyone will ever match it though, because the voice acting and complexity of Apex gameplay is really well done and deep
Learn a lesson or two Warner Bros
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