EA has revealed it is making five of its accessibility patents available to everyone, meaning other devs can use them without fear of legal repercussions.
Accessibility is incredibly important in gaming and it's fair to say that some studios implement it in their games more effectively than others. That's not always an active choice. It might be a case of a studio simply not having access to the tools needed to make its games more accessible. Or it might well fear legal action if it includes an accessibility option that has been patented by another studio.
Take EA, for example. A number of games have tried to replicate the ping system used in Apex Legends, including Fortnite. The feature allows players to communicate with teammates without having to speak via in-game audio and visual cues. Well, devs can now directly copy that system as EA has revealed it will open the patent and make it available to anyone who wants to use it.
EA announced the move via what it has dubbed the Patents Pledge, and it doesn't only include the accessibility feature mentioned above. Patents will be lifted on five features in total, with the possibility of more being added in the future. “We realize that to drive meaningful change, we need to work together as an industry to do better for our players,” EA EVP Chris Bruzzo explained.
Other accessibility features previously patented by EA include options to change a game's brightness and contrast. The feature allows for certain elements of a game's environment to be more visible, especially for players with color blindness or impaired vision. The features are currently being used by EA in games like Madden NFL and FIFA.
Another feature now available to all is one EA hasn't even had the chance to include in its own games yet. A tool that allows players to change music and other sound cues to best suit their hearing preferences. Making games accessible to as many people as possible is understandably important to EA. So important that it's willing to share its tools with others to try and make the industry as a whole more accessible to everybody.
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