EA makes its accessibility-related patents free for rival studios and developers to use

EA has announced that it is giving competitors and developers free access to all its accessibility-related patents and technology. The publisher hopes that opening up its accessibility-related patents to other developers will “encourage them to build new features that make video games more inclusive.”

The pledge covers five of EA’s patents, from the publisher’s accessibility-focused technology designed to help players with vision, speaking, hearing and cognitive disabilities. Included in this is EA’s ‘Ping System,’ which is used in Apex Legends and enables players to communicate via a ‘ping’ system, a mechanic which has been lauded for making the game more accessible as it helps players with speaking, hearing and cognitive disabilities who struggle with communicating.

Three of the patents deal with making games more accessible to players with vision issues, and are already being used in EA’s Madden NFL and FIFA franchises. The technologies automatically detect and modify the colours, brightness and contrast in a game to improve the visibility of objects with similar luminosities, allowing players to better interact with the game.

EA is currently open sourcing source code for a solution that addresses colour blindness, brightness, and contrast issues in a similar manner. The code can be found on GitHub, and allows developers to apply Electronic Arts’ technology directly into their games.

The fifth patent meanwhile relates to personalised sound technology, which aims to help players with hearing issues by modifying or creating music based on their hearing preferences and that works to any constraints they may face.

EA plans to add more accessibility-focused patents to the pledge over time, as well as identify other technologies to make open source. 

“At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play,” said Chris Bruzzo, 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.

“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.”

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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