On Monday, we saw a leak of a very strange controller. Flat and with two huge buttons, it immediately suggested accessibility, and today Microsoft has confirmed that. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed to help those who have a passion for games, but limited physical ability.
The Xbox team has been developing the device since 2016, collaborating with organizations like SpecialEffect, Warfighter Engaged, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and Craig Hospital.
“We gained feedback from people with disabilities and collaborated with gamers to build an accessible controller from the ground up, and I think this will make a huge difference for gamers of all abilities — connecting more gamers than ever before,” said Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft.
Essentially, the Xbox Adaptive Controller casts a wide a net as possible. It's compatible with a number of existing accessories, has easily reprogrammable buttons, and combines with software to add further functionality.
Familiar Yet Accessible
Microsoft has been making a number of improvements to Xbox on the software side, from an improved magnifier to its co-pilot software, which lets you use two controllers at once. This means users with one able hand can use the original and Adaptive Controller in tandem or with a friend.
Despite this, Microsoft is taking pains to ensure the controller fits the Xbox brand. It features the classic D-pad, home, start, and menu buttons, as well as the white Xbox One S finish. Even the packing is similar yet easily opened.
The announcement coincides with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, but Microsoft says it's committed to working on such improvements 24/7. It highlighted its AI for Accessibility program, which is committing $25 million to finding technical solutions for physical problems. Microsoft Stores across the country will also be hosting ‘Ability Week' from May 29, a series of events focused on the topic.
“There is nothing but potential to make gaming more inclusive for everyone,” said Flurrie. “We absolutely take on that challenge and encourage more gamers to get involved, especially if you have a disability.”
The Xbox Adaptive controller will be available for $100 on the Microsoft Store. You can subscribe to email updates here.