Microsoft announced a new
Xbox One controller this week, but it’s not one you’d come to expect. This
controller is targeted at a specific audience to make gaming more accessible
for everyone. The Xbox Adaptive Controller, as it’s officially called, is a
first-of-its-kind device that has been created for gamers with limited
mobilities in mind. It’s been designed to address the challenges they face when
trying to enjoy games today – removing barriers encountered by disabled gamers
by being adaptable to their needs.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller can be used on any Xbox One
console or Windows 10 PC, and was developed in partnership with various
charities and organizations from around the world, including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital,
SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. The device was also created in collaboration with many members in the
limited mobility gaming community.
Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, says the company worked closely with these charity foundations and organizations, as well as directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in the
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,” he said.
“This has been a milestone collaboration for us,” said SpecialEffect’s
Founder and CEO, 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
The Xbox Adaptive Controller works with common adaptive
switches that gamers with limited mobility may already own, but it also has two
large buttons built-in that can be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard
controller’s button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app. It can even be mounted
upon a variety of different accessories to meet the various needs of disabled
also worked closely with third-party manufacturers to support external inputs
which can be plugged in to the new controller. These inputs include PDP’s
One-Handed Joystick purposely-built for the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro Joystick, and Quadstick’s Game Controller.
features 19 labelled 3.5mm input jacks and 2 USB ports, as well as three custom
profiles with a default one already preloaded onto the controller. It also has an
internal Ion Lithium battery that can be recharged, and this will last gamers
approximately 25 hours of game time before its need to be recharged again.
In the UK,
Microsoft has been working with Muscular Dystrophy UK to promote the Xbox
Adaptive Controller. Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information
for Muscular Dystrophy UK noted the device’s appeal and extreme usefulness for
those with a muscle-wasting condition whose movements will become increasingly
limited over time. He hopes the announcement and release of the Xbox Adaptive
Controller is the first step towards a more inclusive video game culture.
new Xbox Adaptive Controller will make a real difference to disabled people,
particularly those with a muscle-wasting condition whose movements will become
increasingly limited over time,” Bungay said. “We know from our own research
that video games are important to many disabled people. It allows them to
socialise and compete with others on an equal basis, which has a positive
effect on their wellbeing. Despite this, more than one in three young, disabled
gamers told us they feel excluded due to a lack of accessibility. By working in
partnership with Microsoft, we hope that today marks the first step towards a
more inclusive video gaming culture.”
Adaptive Controller has been in the works for almost three years, but Phil
Spencer believes that this is only one step along Microsoft’s journey of
inclusive design – and that there’s more work ahead for the company.
been a passion project for people around the world, both inside Microsoft and
beyond,” he said. “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 be available exclusively through the Microsoft Store when it ships
for $99.99 later this year – offering significant value over the customized
alternatives that exist today. Additional details on the Xbox Adaptive Controller will be shared
in a few weeks at E3 2018. This year’s Xbox
briefing will be hosted from the Microsoft
Theater and will take place on Sunday, June 10th at 1pm PDT (4pm EST, 9pm
more information on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, be sure to check out the latest feature
piece on Microsoft Story Labs and hear directly from Microsoft
Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie in her blog post, which commemorates
Global Accessibility Awareness
Day. To celebrate this incredibly important day, we also released a feature
story on the accessibility
features implemented by Turn 10 Studios into Forza Motorsport 7 that make
it the most inclusive racing game out there.
Adaptive Controller is the latest example of Microsoft’s commitment to
accessibility and inclusive design, as well as the company’s mission statement
to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
It’s a line that’s often used by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, and it applies
to all aspects of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which will be a game-changer
for the millions of disabled gamers around the world. Kudos to the entire Microsoft
team on this incredibly special and unique product.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.