Microsoft is on a mission these days, and that is to get as many people to participate in the technological revolution we are living in – that includes people with disabilities and who have limited mobility to play games on Xbox.
The new $99 Xbox Adaptive Controller has been "years in the making" and involved Microsoft working closely with The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged.
Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer detailed the announcement in a new blog post on Xbox Wire, where he shared some of the goals and motivation behind the project:
At Microsoft, we believe in empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Our CEO, Satya Nadella, has spoken about how essential it is that we push the boundaries of what technology can do in a concerted effort to be inclusive of everyone around the world. These principles have the deepest impact in how we are building products that are designed for everyone. We have been on a journey of inclusive design, which celebrates and draws inspiration from people who are often overlooked in the typical design process.
For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.
An image of the controller leaked earlier this week with our games editor Jez Corden detailing the function of the mystery device. Microsoft is now announcing it in conjunction with Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 18), which seems apropos.
On top of the device lay two large programmable buttons, alongside quick access the Xbox, Menu, View, and other key inputs. What makes this controller truly unique is along the rear – 19 3.5mm jacks, hooking the console into an existing ecosystem of accessible buttons, thumbsticks, and other input devices. A dedicated USB port allows joysticks to be connected from third-party manufacturers too. This controller will be compatible with both Xbox One and Windows 10 devices, with additional functionality tied to the Xbox Accessories app.
Many people with disabilities have had a difficult time affording customized hardware for gaming, often leaving them on the sidelines. With Microsoft's recent focus for the last few years on inclusive design and bringing Windows – and now Xbox – to everyone including those without the same means as the rest of us can enjoy the fantastic technology that is evolving day to day.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be sold exclusively through the Microsoft Store for $99 later this year. For more information make sure to read Spencer's full blog post as well as 'Plugged In' the story behind the journey to make the controller.
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