EA pledges not to sue its patents and accessibility technologies

EA will not take legal action against other developers who use the patented accessibility mechanisms that it uses in its games. The video game giant has announced that it is making a patent pledge, which gives competing developers free access to one of its accessibility-related technologies. Although not all game mechanics are patented, some companies have caught at ensure that competitors are not legally allowed to use their technologies. Critics condemn the practice, to accuse companies stifle creativity and innovation in the industry. At least EA won’t sue anyone who builds their accessibility features into their games, including Apex Legends’ “ping” system.

The feature gives players on the same team a way to communicate with each other without using voice chat. They can simply press buttons to tell their teammates where they are on a map, to alert others of a threat, or to mark targets. Supposedly, Epic Games borrowed Apex ping system for Fortnite. The Patents Pledge also covers at least four other EA features, three of which make video games more accessible to players with vision problems. These technologies, already used in the Madden NFL and FIFA franchises, can automatically detect colors and then change their brightness and contrast to make them more visible.

The latest patent of the five specifically mentioned EAs covers technology that allows hearing-impaired players to modify or create their own music. EA says it will add all future accessibility patents to the pledge and hopes the move can “encourage others to create new features that make video games more inclusive.”

Chris Bruzzo, executive vice president of positive play, business and marketing at EA, said in a statement:

“At Electronic Arts, our mission is to inspire the world to play. We can only make this 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 get the most out of these patents and encourage those with the resources, innovation and creativity to do as we do by committing to putting accessibility first. We welcome collaboration with others on how we move the industry forward together. “

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