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Social Game Dev EA has made five of its accessibility patents free for any studio to use

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

In a statement on the official EA site, the publisher announced a ‘patent pledge’ that lets any other game developer use five of its patents (with potentially more to follow) without having to pay any money or risk being sued.

“Through our patent pledge, we’re committing that every developer in the industry will be able to use our accessibility-centred technology patents royalty free,” the statement reads.

“Anyone can freely use these patents and implement our accessibility-centred IP in their own games to make them more inclusive.

“This pledge covers some of our most innovative technologies designed to break down barriers for players living with disabilities or medical issues. This includes those with vision, hearing, speaking or cognitive issues.”

The five patents include the ping system used in Apex Legends, where players can communicate with their teammates without speaking by placing various different markers on the map.

According to the pledge, EA “promises not to enforce any party for infringing any of the listed EA patents”, and says it “may add additional patents to this pledge at a later date”.

It only has one exception: if someone files a lawsuit against EA for infringing a different patent, EA will refuse to share the accessibility patents with them.

The five patents are as follows:

Contextually Aware Communications System in Video Games – Ping System that allows players to transmit contextually aware audio and visual communications generated via mappable controller inputs.

Systems and Methods for Automated Image Processing for Images with Similar Luminosities (two patents) – Image processing that improves visibility of colours to optimize for colour vision deficiencies.

Contrast Radio Detection and Rendering System – Automatically detecting contrast ratios in pixel regions of rendered frames and updating regions having subpar contrast ratios to meet contrast ratio standards or thresholds.

Personalized Real-Time Audio Generation Based on User Physiological Response – Generating personalized music based on a user’s hearing information and stylistic preference to best comport with that user’s hearing issues.
 

BennyBlanco

aka IMurRIVAL69
Dec 9, 2012
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If they felt they could win a lawsuit about the ping system, they would’ve sued epic games.
 

CamHostage

Member
Sep 30, 2004
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Does those five patents do any good for anyone though? Never heard of 'em!

Most of them are to help hearing- or visually-impaired gamers. The notable one to the mainstream is the Ping system used in Apex Legends.

They are in a way reverse-patent-trolling, where they squat on a patentable concept so that no troll can take it and then release it to the development community to keep it freely available. So it's a good deed, if they do it right. It's supposedly why you see a ton of patents from Sony and other companies on sometimes basic concepts, the market wants it owned by somebody who knows how to manage it and ideally the patents will be available to even competitors because it's in a good interest to allow access (or more cynically, they all rely on something the other one could sue them for anyway, so why start a cold war?)

If they felt they could win a lawsuit about the ping system, they would’ve sued epic games.

I read elsewhere that EA explicitly agreed to allow Epic the Ping system for Fortnite, before the wider Patent Pledge came into effect.

That agreement may have come after Epic decided to rip it off though; Epic didn't do the same courtesy of calling up the Among Us team for its Imposter system, although board gamers in particular know well that Innersloth didn't exactly invent the saboteur idea of gameplay...
 
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BennyBlanco

aka IMurRIVAL69
Dec 9, 2012
12,991
3,009
1,070
Most of them are to help hearing- or visually-impaired gamers. The notable one to the mainstream is the Ping system used in Apex Legends.

They are in a way reverse-patent-trolling, where they squat on a patentable concept so that no troll can take it and then release it to the development community to keep it freely available. So it's a good deed, if they do it right. It's supposedly why you see a ton of patents from Sony and other companies on sometimes basic concepts, the market wants it owned by somebody who knows how to manage it and ideally the patents will be available to even competitors because it's in a good interest to allow access (or more cynically, they all rely on something the other one could sue them for anyway, so why start a cold war?)



I read elsewhere that EA explicitly agreed to allow Epic the Ping system for Fortnite, before the wider Patent Pledge came into effect.

That agreement may have come after Epic ripped it off though; Epic didn't do the same courtesy of calling up the Among Us team for its Imposter system, although board gamers in particular know well that Innersloth didn't exactly invent the saboteur idea of gameplay...



I did not know that. It seems like Epics MO is to ask for forgiveness rather than permission so I would bet they just put it in without asking.
 

Ozzy Onya A2Z

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Apr 16, 2012
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Wonderful for gaming to be accessible to all people. For me the best part of this patent pledge by EA is the Apex Legends ping system opening up for other devs/studios. It's the best going and I hope to see it in more games, like yesterday. MCC sure could do with an update of that magnitude.
 
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hlm666

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Feb 25, 2021
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Contextually Aware Communications System in Video Games – Ping System that allows players to transmit contextually aware audio and visual communications generated via mappable controller inputs.

Systems and Methods for Automated Image Processing for Images with Similar Luminosities (two patents) – Image processing that improves visibility of colours to optimize for colour vision deficiencies.
The first had been done in RTS games at the very least and probably mobas aswell long before apex, how did they even patent that? Then the 2nd one again we have had colour blind modes in games for a long time, im not sure when they patented that but I would bet you could show prior use easily.