Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller Went Through A Unique Evolution During The Design Process

Feedback from the gaming and disabled communities helped create an Xbox controller for gamers with unique needs.


Microsoft has focused a lot of energy over the last few years into making Xbox more accessible, with the Xbox Adaptive Controller being a positive step towards addressing the unique needs of players. A product of the Xbox accessibility movement and a team of engineers in the Xbox gaming division, the controller went through numerous iterations when it was in development. Direct feedback from gaming and disabled communities helping to shape the final product into its current form.

"The Xbox Adaptive Controller looks absolutely nothing like the first prototype created," Brannon Zahand, Microsoft's senior gaming accessibility program manager, explained to Game Informer. "It changed many, many times over the course of development. The reason was that we built the device with the Gaming & Disability Community, not for them. As such, feedback constantly was rolling in that forced us to continually re-examine the design of the product during development."

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Now Playing: How Xbox Made Its Adaptive Controller And Why It's So Important | E3 2018

Microsoft focused primarily on people with limited mobility for the controller, prioritizing continuity and compatibility so that users could adapt quickly to the new physical language of this device. The Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S also feature accessibility functionality in their software, such as speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and a narrator, making the gaming experience more helpful for a wide variety of gamers.

AbleGamers hosted its 2020 Video Games Accessibility Awards earlier this month, honoring the games and studios that also made an effort to make their games available to all types of players. Many of this year's biggest games, such as The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Apex Legends picked up awards from the organization across numerous categories.

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