As modern video games continue to break out of their mold and become a new medium for immersive storytelling, so too does the need for more accessible—and considered—hardware designs for a growing population of gamers.
While we’ve seen a number of brilliant one-off solutions from hardware modders including Ben Heck, whose various one-handed PS4 and XBox mods can accommodate single-handed use, little has been done to solve these problems on a mass level by a major console manufacturer—until now.
With their $99.99 Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft is opening a new portal for gamers with disabilities by allowing them (or their gamer buddies) to program two large buttons and input a variety of different peripherals across 19 jacks to make Xbox and Windows 10 games more accessible to specific needs.
“For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging,” explains Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox. “The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.”
Developed in partnership with various gaming and disability organizations including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged, Spencer and his XBox team worked closely with gamers to create a modular setup that is versatile for a variety of needs, affordable, and is easy to plug-and-play.
“The Xbox Adaptive Controller has been years in the making, though we realize that this is only one step along our journey of inclusive design and that we have more work ahead,” adds Spencer. “This has been a passion project for people around the world, both inside Microsoft and beyond. We’re thrilled to introduce it to the world today, tell the story behind it, and take what we have learned on our journey to inform future initiatives in inclusive design.”
The Xbox Adaptive Controller will begin shipping in September of 2018. Pre-orders are available over at the Microsoft Store.