Fall Guys Is Accessible, But It Has A Long Way To Go
Like any games-as-service title, more improvements need to come.
Running for my life in Fall Guys' Tail Tag is already frustrating. Getting my tail stolen by a hot dog-wearing buffoon on the red team, who I thought was on my team because of my partial color blindness, is downright aggravating. Fall Guys doesn't have a color blind mode, so players like me have to deal with the problem until Mediatonic implements an accessibility feature that makes team colors more distinct. It's something the studio says it's working on, but it is one of several accessibility issues that need to be addressed.
"The biggest game I have difficulty with is Team Tail Tag," said Redditor DVDN27, who has a type of color blindess called Protanopia. "I've been informed by my brother that the colors of the teams in the game are Yellow, Blue, Red, and Green. However, I am unable to tell any difference between the Green and Yellow teams yet I am more often than not in one of these colored teams."
Players with disabilities have had mixed experiences with Fall Guys. Those who are hard-of-hearing and who have mobility issues have praised the game for its simple button inputs and approachable gameplay design. Others have called Mediatonic out for a lack of basic features that help all disabled players.
"No. Fall Guys is *not* the most accessible Battle Royale, you cannot even remap mouse 1 & 2 without third-party software," said AbleGamers founder Steven Spohn in a tweet. "It's a popular game accessible to some. But [the studio] still need to add more accessibility features..."
Because I keep being asked: No. Fall Guys is *not* the most accessible Battle Royale. you cannot even remap mouse1 & 2 without third-party software.— Steven Spohn (@stevenspohn) August 19, 2020
It's a popular game accessible to some. But they still need to add more accessibility features and I look forward to when they do.
Mediatonic has acknowledged the issue, responding to Spohn by saying the studio has been "talking a lot" about various accessibility issues. "We're scaling up the team at the moment and are all actively working on new content/fixing things/improving the game," the official account said in a tweet. "We 1000% want to improve accessibility as part of that too!"
Mediatonic did not respond to GameSpot's questions about what sort of specific accessibility features it has planned. Players have made suggestions, including things like adding a toggle option for grabbing, letting players lock the camera behind their player character, and increasing the size of text on screen in order to make the game easier for everyone to play.
"Even within the constraints of the genre there's still a lot of of pretty straightforward sensible stuff that can be done, including things that are just good design for all players, and some things that could be quick wins," accessibility specialist Ian Hamilton tells GameSpot. "Even when trying to retrofit post-launch, which is is generally harder than early in development."
Mediatonic is a moderately-sized studio with more than 230 employees, although we don't know how many developers are working on Fall Guys. When developing a games-as-service title, especially one with new mini-games, cosmetics, and gameplay improvements happening regularly, adding accessibility options becomes a game of priorities. It can be difficult to decide what comes first.
Hamilton cites Rare and it's ongoing development of Sea of Thieves as a prime example of how service-like games should handle accessibility over time. The studio has had 16 updates with new accessibility features since the game launched in 2018. The UK-based studio has done things as small as adding an auto-float feature to help players with a fear of water. Rare and Mediatonic have a similar employee headcount, although Rare has backing from Microsoft.
So just to be clear, here's a list of which Sea Of Thieves updates have included accessibility upgrades:— Ian Hamilton (@ianhamilton_) June 4, 2020
Mediatonic can look to other battle royales for ideas to help make Fall Guys more accessible, including the addition of a practice area that gives players the chance to practice movement in a non-competitive setting and the ability to access settings without having to quit your session, for two things that experts say would make the game a lot better.
The London-based studio has plans to support Fall Guys for years, adding new mini-games and other improvements to the game over time. Adding new accessibility features as development progresses should be a priority, like adding the ability to invert the X/Y axis in a recent update, and we'll monitor it as the game grows.
"Mediatonic clearly cares deeply about the experience of players across the whole spectrum, as can be seen from [the studio's] incredible fundraising initiative for SpecialEffect," Hamilton said. "And while games development can be a tough gig of ideas and dreams left on the cutting room floor, the financial success that [the studio has] had with the game should help open a few doors."
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