Publisher Electronic Arts has unveiled a new pledge to make it easier for third-party developers to use its tools. The so-called “Patent Pledge,” lists a series of gameplay mechanics that developers are free to implement into their own games. Among these is the iconic Ping System from Apex Legends.
Although most battle royale games implement some kind of ping system, arguably none are as well-executed as Apex‘s. Apex Legends provides numerous tools that enable gamers of varying abilities to communicate with ease. Although not as effective as voice call-outs, the Ping System operates as a useful substitute for those who either can’t or don’t want to speak.
The Patent Pledge
Despite the criticism often aimed at EA, its motive this time around seems genuine enough. The statement emphasizes that these changes will enable “every developer in the industry to use our accessibility-centered technology patents.” This is fantastic as it should help “break down barriers for players living with disabilities or medical issues.”
The Apex Legends Ping System isn’t the only mechanic to be included as part of the Patent Pledge. There are also more niche inclusions such as image processing that improves visibility and the ability to personalize music based on a user’s stylistic preference.
The best part about the Patent Pledge is that this isn’t something that requires a deal to be struck first. Any developer can freely use the available tools and mechanics to improve their game’s accessibility. Accessibility is a field that still has a long way to go but a pro-consumer decision like this certainly helps speed that process up.
There is a small catch to all of this though. EA makes it clear that as the owner, it can terminate the pledge for a specific party whenever it desires. This is most likely a preventative measure to protect itself, but it is something for developers to be aware of.