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.