What you need to know
- For years now, Xbox has been a vocal advocate for the advancement of accessibility in video games.
- On Tuesday, the company unveiled a new range of accessibility-focused updates for gamers.
- Improvements to the Xbox Store and Xbox Game Bar are great, as is a new guideline for event planners to make their events more accessible.
- The headlining feature, however, is the upcoming ability to remap buttons on the Xbox Adaptive Controller or Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 to any of almost 90 keyboard keys.
The importance of accessibility in all walks of life cannot be understated, allowing people to live normal lives regardless of their personal challenges or disabilities. This is just as true for video games, and few companies have been as vocal about its investments in the area than Microsoft Xbox. On Tuesday, the company revealed more of its efforts to improve accessibility for gamers.
Xbox's new accessibility updates continue the company's annual efforts to celebrate the Gaming & Disability Community, and follow Xbox's last major accessibility update earlier this year. There's quite a bit of information here, but I'm going to focus on the five major updates to accessibility on Xbox. For one, a new way for players to enjoy the best PC games with the accessories that suit them best, even if the game in question doesn't support them.
- Controller rebinding to keyboard keys. Soon, players will be able to rebind any of the buttons on their Xbox Adaptive Controller or Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 to any of almost 90 individual keyboard keys.
- The feature will be available through the Xbox Accessories app on Xbox and Windows PC
- It's currently available to Xbox Insiders and Xbox Accessibility Insiders, but will be rolling out to all players in the coming months
- Players will be able to customize their controller to play mouse-and-keyboard only games with their controller
- All controller buttons can be rebound to any keyboard key, or to a combination of keyboard keys
- New "Accessibility in Games" Xbox Store channel. Xbox has been making huge strides toward making accessible games more discoverable on the Xbox Store, and this is another step forward in that endeavor. A new "Accessibility in Games" channel on Xbox.com and the Xbox Store will highlight all Xbox games with accessibility tags.
- This channel also supports Xbox's advanced filtering options, which let players filter out accessibility tags for Gameplay, Audio, Visual, and Input features
- Contactless Xbox Wireless Controller pairing. Now, players no longer need to physically get up and manually put their Xbox into pairing mode in order to connect an Xbox Wireless Controller. Using an existing Xbox Wireless Controller or Xbox media remote with the Xbox Accessories app, players can put their Xbox into pairing mode remotely and follow the on-screen instructions to pair a new controller. This can also be done using a digital assistant.
- New Xbox Game Bar accessibility options. The Xbox Game Bar now features a new accessibility settings menu with various options to help make the tool and PC games more accessible.
- Playbook for Accessible Gaming Events. Xbox is sharing what it has learned through its own gaming events with the new Playbook for Accessible Gaming Events, a new tool that event planners in the industry can use to guide their planning for gaming events and improve accessibility for attendees.
I love to see accessibility continue to be a focus for Xbox, something that continues to be obvious when looking at its games. Forza Motorsport (2023) is one of the most accessible and approachable video games I have ever played, and Hi-Fi RUSH made huge strides to make the historically unapproachable rhythm-brawler genre more accessible and inclusive. There's a lot of great stuff going on in the space, with more and more companies taking accessibility seriously, like Sony PlayStation.
Enjoying the best Xbox games has never been easier, no matter the challenges or obstacles you face in your life that may have prevented you from playing games in the past. I hope to see Xbox continue to push the bar forward as time goes on.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.