Skip to main content

How Xbox's Adaptive Controller could revolutionize gaming for the disabled

Having a disability can interfere with a lot in life, including the ability to enjoy gaming. Disabilities that impair movement often make this difficult, and in some cases even impossible. Unfortunately for folks with this problem, there are very few viable options available to help them ease this struggle.

The upcoming Xbox Adaptive Controller, however, changes this. Designed specifically for people with limited mobility, it has a huge amount of potential. Here's how the new controller might change the face of gaming forever.

See on Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

Incredible versatility

With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a gamer can game with one hand and one foot, or one hand and their shoulder, or even one foot and their chin.

Between the dual programmable buttons, fully customizable control scheme, and the staggering 19 3.5 mm jacks that can be used to connect joysticks, keypads, and more, the Adaptive Controller definitely earns its title. The possibilities for all the different personalized rigs that could be organized for someone with a disability are endless.

This extensive adaptability allows anyone that suffers from an impairment to play video games like anyone else would, no matter what their personal struggle is like. That's an incredible step forward for the accessibility community and their effort to reintegrate with the gaming world.

We know it works

Corey was able to game with his brother Zachary despite his injuries thanks to the Adaptive Controller.

Corey was able to game with his brother Zachary despite his injuries thanks to the Adaptive Controller.

It's one thing to boast about the controller's capabilities, but it's another to see them in action, being used by the people they were made for. Thankfully, though, we're able to see that the product works excellently in its introductory video on Xbox's YouTube channel.

Throughout the video, various people suffering from a disability are shown utilizing the Adaptive Controller to great effect, with a few of them specifically noting how easy it is for them to play when using it. An occupational therapist at Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado spoke about the hardware:

Our role as occupational therapists is to get people back to 'doing'. When the Xbox Adaptive Controller came along, it acted like an Xbox controller. It just worked.

All of this proves that the controller is accomplishing what it was made to do, and that it's almost guaranteed that it will continue to be effective when it releases to the wider public later this year.

A domino effect

The Xbox Adaptive Controller may only be the first of many accessibility-focused products across the gaming industry.

Assuming the Adaptive Controller is as successful as it looks like it's going to be, it's very likely that Xbox's competitors will develop something similar in the near future. If we look past how various companies will attempt to outdo each other, we'll see that there's one group that benefits no matter what: the accessibility community.

If similar products are developed for PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC, than physically impaired gamers will have more and more options to choose from when it comes to deciding what kind of games they want to play. Indeed, the Xbox Adaptive Controller may only be the first of many accessibility-focused products across the gaming industry, and there's nothing I'd like more then for that to be the case. Everyone deserves a chance to experience the magic of video games. Thanks to the Xbox team, it's possible that everyone will.

Your thoughts

Are you excited to see how the Adaptive Controller might change gaming forever? Let me know in the comments.

Upon becoming available later this year, the Xbox Adaptive Controller will cost $99.99.

See on Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Ah .. Microsoft defining the future yet again, and then someone comes along and steals the idea only to claim they "invented it" : I . . .
  • I am sure nobody will since this subject ISNT even considered a competition to begin with. if so Microsoft put their stamp on it as being the first major company that developed an adaptive controller and others should follow to give the disabled variety. there is always room for improvements that anyone should pick up and work on it. the disabled deserve the best even more than us ''regulars'' getting new controllers.
  • or maybe the users of these controller will complain about exclusives and move to PS because Xbox apparently isnt "for the gamers" and has 0 games to play. commendations to MS doing this. Very good stuff.
  • BC, FC, is a good feature for gamers, no? Don't you care about your investment (game lib)? XPA allows user to continue their game session on a desktop/NB (S-mode and ARM included), which is also a pro. Cross platform unlimited cloud sync is free, a pro if you care about your investment (game saves == your time). Embrace cross play, a pro, esp for multiplayer games. DirectX is the standard in the industry, a pro they are investing in ray tracing. Havok is used in many AAA games including Zelda, Uncharted, BF, COD, Assassin's Creed, a pro. Game server rental, a pro. VisualStudio... a pro. Free SVN, ticket system, project manager for small dev or team, a pro. Biggest GitHub contributor, a pro. Bring WIN10 to IOT, AR and MR, a pro. Let dev open xbox game's API to mixer, a pro. Streamer can get a cut promoting MsStore product, a pro. Bring Halo, GoW and Forza to e-sports, build communities, provide prize money, prolong games' lifespan, a pro...? def no a con. Exclusives... there's only 1 exclusive on ps4's top 10 best seller.
  • Who cares? As long as these folks have as many options as possible for gaming I'm a happy man.
  • Congrats to Microsoft for a very fine expression of the heart.
  • Will there be an Elite version? j/k
  • Though I feel like disabled in game, still using mouse, keys, joystick,... just where went kinect. I would welcome something like that for hands, fingers. Coupled with feedback gloves it would be perfect.
  • I think it's fantastic, coming up with devices that bridge the accessibility gap. But, for me, I still will not use a controller. I prefer keyboard, mouse and a HOTAS. Which is why I'll still to PC gaming.
  • I still think about how they could redesign pc gaming keyboard and mouse to benefit the same crowd, they stay the way they do now to serve dual purposes but why not specifically designed only for games? I have thoughts but because the tools are a mental barrier for me, I don't really game on pc...
  • Too late for Stephen. Would have loved to whooped his butt in GTA online. Satay is one cruel mofo delaying this. Oh well hopefully there will be a symbol on the gamer tags for using this controller so we can go easy on the cripples, would be more fair for them.
  • I think this is awesome although I don't think they thought out all impairments as they stated:
    "allows anyone that suffers from an impairment to play video games like anyone else would, no matter what their personal struggle is like. " There was constant mention of people with the ability to use one hand, foot, chin with the combination of the other. Yet no mention of anything for those that are quadriplegic such as my fiance and use a mouth stick for everything they do (Cell phone, typing on keyboard, working a mouse). Time will tell with what adaptive expansion devices they release I suppose. I think there should be more usb inputs to go along with the 3.5mm to allow better adaptation with devices that may already be in use such as roller ball mice etc.
  • Good points, there's always room for improvement. It'll only get better.