Apex Legends pings & colorblind tech among EA patents offered to support accessibility

EA's Patent Pledge for Increasing Accessibility aims to make gaming more widely available by opening some of its patents for use by other developers.

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As gaming and communication have evolved over the years, so too have people realized the need for accessibility in games. Video games should be fun for everyone to enjoy and accessibility only serves to open the field to those who might otherwise be impaired in their enjoyment of a game. With that, it would seem that Electronic Arts is aiming to help build a better, more accessible gaming tech community. It has made five patents, including colorblind mode rendering techniques and Apex Legends’ ping system available for use in an initiative to increase accessibility across the industry.

Electronic Arts announced its Patent Pledge for Increasing Accessibility in a company blog post on August 24, 2021. With the pledge, EA is committed to helping increase accessibility throughout gaming by allowing other developers to make use of several listed patents in their own games and projects. There are five patents listed at the time of this writing, but EA suggested it could add more. Among them are the Apex Legends ping system, colorblind mode rendering tech, and an unused tech for generating real-time audio in support of those with hearing deficiencies.

The versatile Apex Legends ping system is among patents made open by EA to increase gaming industry accessibilty.
The versatile Apex Legends ping system is among patents made open by EA to increase gaming industry accessibility.

There have already been groups that have adapted something similar to Apex Legends’ ping system into their games. You can find such systems in games like Fortnite and Borderlands 3. EA is not the first to dabble in a colorblind mode, either. We recently praised such a mode among accessibility options in our review of Psychonauts 2. That said, EA making these techs available to the industry is a fantastic move. Apex Legends’ ping system is among the best around for quick, contextual communication, and hopefully other developers will take up the opportunity to adapt this and other available techs to increase accessibility in their own games. Moreover, it’s EA’s hope that this move will spur other groups in the industry to also make their own accessibility tech available.

With groups like Steven Spohn and AbleGamers pushing loudly for accessibility and inclusion in gaming, here’s hoping EA’s move not only expands the accessibility factor in the industry as a whole, but truly pushes other developers and publishers to do the same.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      August 24, 2021 5:34 AM

      EA says it is making five of its game-related patents - including the ping system in Apex Legends - available to all game developers for free use indefinitely and that it will not file lawsuits for any dev that uses these systems. These are all generally related to accessibility within games.

      https://www.vg247.com/ea-accessibility-tech-apex-legends-ping-system-free-to-all

      Additionally, they have released code to Github related to supporting color blindness options for games

      https://github.com/electronicarts

      • reply
        August 24, 2021 5:36 AM

        Seems like a really odd move for EA. I can't help wonder what drove this decision. I mean, great for the industry, and maybe it's a bit of goodwill after all the recent negative video game headlines, but what's the motivation.

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          August 24, 2021 5:41 AM

          Probably just that. Activision is getting a bunch of flak so EA steps in as the good guy. They become more popular, people are more willing to spend money on them, more people want to work there which means they can either choose the best or offer lower pay/benefits. I could be over thinking this but it seems like a good move on their part.

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          August 24, 2021 5:44 AM

          Build a little goodwill on stuff that wasn't going to be inherently monetize-able anyway. I think it sets a really good precedent. Maybe by paying it forward, they can reap some benefit from someone else's code somewhere down the line. Good for them!

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        August 24, 2021 5:39 AM

        That is pretty cool

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        August 24, 2021 5:43 AM

        Github page is simple enough but cool if there comes to be a standard model that works for everyone's disability over time.

        Giving away game "patents" is laughably ridiculous.
        None of those patents would hold if it went to court.

      • reply
        August 24, 2021 5:58 AM

        And for those curious, the Apex Legend ping system patent was just granted today, here it is at USPTO https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?PageNum=0&docid=11097189

        • reply
          August 24, 2021 11:09 AM

          I love that the UI drawings were probably created by running a screenshot through a filter or playing with a fancy shader.

      • reply
        August 24, 2021 11:05 AM

        Would be even cooler if they didn't patent software features in the first place.

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          August 24, 2021 12:42 PM

          Would be nice if it wasn't patentable, as it is EA patenting and giving free access is better than them allowing a patent troll in to claim similar enough design

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          August 24, 2021 12:55 PM

          Exactly! There is prior art about those features all over the industry. It's laughable they think it was worth patenting.

          Patents get filled so lawyers have some to use when getting attacked by other patent lawyers.

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            August 24, 2021 12:57 PM

            This. That last is all it comes down to now. It's not about protecting actual inventors.

      • reply
        August 24, 2021 11:18 AM

        It’s sad that they were granted a patent for such a relatively trivial thing.

        It certainly is game changing (har har), but the actual implementation of it from a software perspective is not complicated at all.

        Glad they’re willing to share, I guess?

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          August 24, 2021 7:51 PM

          I have no idea how they got a patent for the colorblind mode given that it's directly based on work that isn't theirs (Daltonize filter). There's even sample shaders available based on that research that are all open source that look damn near identical to the EA one.

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      August 24, 2021 6:00 PM

      The easiest way to fix issues for colorblinders like myself is to put names above the people we are supposed to shoot. No name, no shoot. Name, shoot. There I saved you 80 million dollars in research. I never had a problem until modern gaming started using everyone's name in multiplayer.

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