EA won’t be filing any lawsuit against other developers that use the patented accessibility mechanics it uses in its games. The video game giant has announced that it’s making a Patents Pledge, which gives rival developers free access to any of its accessibility-related technologies. While not all gameplay mechanics are patented, some companies have taken to making sure competitors aren’t legally allowed to use their technologies. Critics condemn the practice, accusing the companies of stifling creativity and innovation in the industry. EA at least won’t be suing anybody that incorporate its accessibility features in their games, including Apex Legends’ “ping” system.
The feature gives players in the same team a way to communicate with each other without using voice chat. They can simply tap buttons to tell their teammates where they are on a map, to alert others of a threat or to tag targets. Supposedly, Epic Games borrowed Apex’s ping system for Fortnite. The Patents Pledge also covers at least four more EA features, three of which make video games more accessible to players with vision issues. Those technologies, already in use in the Madden NFL and FIFA franchises, can automatically detect colors and then modify their brightness and contrast to make them more visible.
The last patent in the five EA specifically mentioned covers a technology allowing players with hearing issues to modify or create their own music. EA says it will add any future accessibility patents to the pledge and that it hopes the move can “encourage others to build new features that make video games more inclusive.”
Chris Bruzzo, EA’s EVP of Positive Play, Commercial and Marketing, said in a statement:
“At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play. 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.”
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