Earlier this week, a brand new Xbox controller design hit the headlines with many suspecting it to be built around accessibility for the differently abled. Microsoft has now officially unveiled the gamepad, titled the Xbox Adaptive Controller, featuring modular inputs to ensure everyone can get the same immersive gaming experience no matter their disability.
Microsoft’s new device has been “years in the making” according to Xbox head Phil Spencer, designed in collaboration with various gaming charities such as the incredibly experienced UK-based charity SpecialEffect, The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital and Warfighter Engaged.
“Our goal was to make the device as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible, and affordable,” Spencer wrote. “In addition to working with common adaptive switches that gamers with limited mobility may already own, it has two large buttons built in. These buttons can also be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard controller's button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app.”
The Xbox Adaptive Controller has over 20 inputs on its top side, enabling the controller to work with other modular components built to make gaming easier for those that need the extra help. For example, Microsoft’s introductory video showcases enhanced an D-Pad, a foot pedal and various other additions to allow gamers to game with “one hand and one foot, or one hand and their shoulder, or event one foot and their chin.”
“This has been a milestone collaboration for us,” added SpecialEffect founder Dr Mick Donegan. “Our experience in helping people with complex physical disabilities to access video games has enabled us to provide not only very relevant advice about features and design, but also direct feedback from a user-centred perspective. Microsoft have a product here that has the potential to help many people globally to enjoy the magic of video games.”
Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller will only available exclusively through the Microsoft Store for $99.99, with more information set to arrive at this year’s E3.
KitGuru Says: What SpecialEffect and accompanying charities do is amazing, but they often work in an unofficial capacity to make the interactive experience accessible for all. It’s admirable that Microsoft would bring this to the forefront in an official capacity while taking on board the feedback of the experts and the accessibility community.