REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – August 24, 2021 – Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) today announces a world first for the video games industry. As part of its commitment to positive play for everyone, the creator of iconic video games EA SPORTS FIFA, Battlefield and The Sims is giving competitors and developers free access to all its accessibility-related patents and technology. The global leader in digital interactive entertainment 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 includes five patents that cover some of Electronic Arts’ most innovative accessibility-centered technology designed to help players with vision, speaking, hearing and cognitive disabilities. This includes the patent for its popular ‘Ping System,’ issued today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Used in Apex Legends™, the technology enables players to communicate via a ping system and has been applauded for its application as a means of both reducing in-game toxicity and making the game more accessible.
The ‘Ping System’ helps people with speaking, hearing and cognitive disabilities who struggle with communicating. It tackles this head on by allowing players to communicate contextual audio and visual commands and announcements through simple and mappable controller inputs, rather than a headset and microphone. It has been overwhelmingly welcomed by players in Apex Legends.
Three of the patents covered by the pledge relate to technology that makes video games more accessible to players with vision issues and are already widely used in popular Electronic Arts games including the Madden NFL and FIFA franchises. The patented technologies automatically detect and modify the colors, brightness and contrast in a game to improve the visibility of objects with similar luminosities. This allows players to better perceive and interact with the content.
Electronic Arts is also open sourcing source code for a technical solution that similarly addresses colorblindness, brightness, and contrast issues in digital content, in a bid to encourage more industry-wide collaboration and innovation on accessibility in video games. The code can be found on GitHub, and will allow developers across the world to apply Electronic Arts’ technology directly into their video games, saving significant amounts in R&D costs and encouraging talent across the industry to adapt or build upon the code.
Chris Bruzzo, EVP of Positive Play, Commercial and Marketing said: “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.”
The fifth patent covered in the pledge relates to personalized 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. Electronic Arts plans to add future accessibility-centered patents to the pledge over time as well as identify other technologies to make open source.
The patent pledge is the latest move by Electronic Arts to make video games accessible to players of all abilities. It builds on previous initiatives including the launch of the Electronic Arts accessibility portal where players can learn about the accessibility features in Electronic Arts’ games, raise issues and make suggestions for improvements. Electronic Arts also has long-standing partnerships with charities like SpecialEffect to help break down barriers in video games and the industry.
Chris Bruzzo adds: “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.”
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More information on the Patent Pledge:
- Electronic Arts promises to not file a lawsuit against any person or entity (a “Pledge Recipient”) alleging that such Pledge Recipient’s development, manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, lease, license, exportation, importation or distribution of Accessibility Technology infringes any of the Electronic Arts Pledged Patents (except as otherwise provided under Section 4 (“Defensive Termination”).
- It is Electronic Arts’ intent that this pledge be legally binding, irrevocable and enforceable against Electronic Arts and its successors and assigns.
- If Electronic Arts transfers an Electronic Arts Pledged Patent to any person or entity, Electronic Arts will require that person or entity to agree, in writing, to abide by the Pledge and to require the same of any subsequent transferees.
- The Pledge is not an assurance and does not provide any warranties regarding the Electronic Arts Pledged Patents, including that the activities covered by the Pledge are free from patent or other intellectual property infringement claims by a third party.
- The full pledge can be found here
Information on the five patents covered in EA’s Accessibility First Patent Pledge:
- Contextually Aware Communications Systems in Video Games, whose patent number is US 11,097,189. This patent covers Ping System technology that assists players with in-game communication by giving them the choice to communicate using in-game commands and announcements. It is currently used in Apex Legends™ and has received overwhelming support from the player community.
- Systems and Methods for Automated Image Processing for Images with Similar Luminosities, whose patent numbers are US 10,118,097 and CN 107694092. These patents cover image processing technology to improve the visibility of colors to optimize for color vision deficiencies.
- Contrast Ratio Detection and Rendering System, whose patent number is US 10,878,540. This patent covers technology to automatically detect and update subpart contrast ratios in order to meet contrast ratio standards or thresholds.
- Personalized Real-Time Audio Generation Based on User Physiological Response, whose patent number is US 10,790,919. This patent covers technology for generating personalized music based on a user’s hearing information and stylistic preference to best comport with the user’s hearing issues. This sound technology has not yet been developed by Electronic Arts.
About Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company develops and delivers games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, mobile devices and personal computers.
In fiscal year 2021, Electronic Arts posted GAAP net revenue of $5.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Electronic Arts is recognized for a portfolio of critically acclaimed, high-quality brands such as EA SPORTS™ FIFA, Battlefield™, Apex Legends™, The Sims™, Madden NFL, Need for Speed™, Titanfall™ and F1™. More information about EA is available at www.ea.com/news.
EA SPORTS, Ultimate Team, Battlefield, Need for Speed, Apex Legends, The Sims and Titanfall are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. John Madden, NFL, FIFA and F1 are the property of their respective owners and used with permission.