Xbox Adaptive Controller Will Come With Special Packaging, See It Here

The unique packaging is aimed at helping people with limited mobility open the package.


Announced in May, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed for people with limited mobility. The controller's design takes into consideration the needs of gamers who may not be able to hold a controller for a long time or reach all the triggers and buttons. It's a forward-thinking, important piece of technology, but Microsoft's efforts don't stop at the controller alone.

The controller will come inside innovative packaging that aims to be easier for people with mobility considerations to unpack, Microsoft announced today. In development for nearly a year, the packaging was created in partnership and based on the feedback of various people who have limited mobility, just as the controller was. Microsoft packaging designers Kevin Marshall and Mark Weiser said during a presentation attended by GameSpot that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and that's part of the reason why they put so much effort into the controller's packaging.

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The designers created more than dozen prototypes before landing on the final version. They thought about challenges related to people not being able to grasp, while the materials were important, too, because some people will need to open the packaging with their teeth.

As you can see in the images above, the packaging uses ribbons and loops that people with limited mobility may be able to grasp more easily. The packaging does require a sharp edge to get through the initial tape. But after that, it should not require much strength to open.

Additionally, it can be opened with hands or feet, while people can also use gravity to help the controller slide out of the box. The controller itself is positioned lower in the box so that if someone needs to pull it out of the box, it won't fall too far and is unlikely to get damaged. What's more, there are open ends on the cord packaging so they can slide out easily. Further still, the cords do not have any twist ties on them, as those can be difficult to unravel.

Marshall and Weiser said they hope the Xbox Adaptive Controller packaging helps set a precedent for other adaptive controllers that other companies might create in the future. The developers talked about how they designed the packaging with the intention for it to not feel "othered," but rather that it would help the disabled gamers to feel empowered.

With a standard gaming box, the packaging team's main design goal is to get the consumer to the product as quickly and elegantly as possible, Marshall said. But with the packaging for the Adaptive Controller, the thinking was to have more steps, but make them easier to complete. They found through testing that people were happy and eager to take longer to get into the packaging if it meant they could do it. With standard packaging, some elements like clamshells might be easy for someone with full control of their hands who can operate scissors, but that might not be the case for everyone.

Marshall acknowledged that the Xbox Adaptive Controller packaging may be more expensive to produce than a normal box. While that may be true, Marshall and Weiser said they are proud of the work Microsoft is doing.

This new packaging is a big first step from Microsoft towards creating products that appeal to a wider group of people. But will Microsoft go on to introduce accessible packaging for its Xbox consoles, too? That could happen later down the track, Marshall said, though for now it doesn't appear to be in the cards. And while Microsoft itself is committed to packaging that takes into consideration the needs of people with mobility considerations, Marshall pointed out that the company can't control what third-party companies do with their own products.

Microsoft designed the controller in collaboration with The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged.

"We worked closely with them and directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in our development. Our goal was to make the device as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible, and affordable," Xbox boss Phil Spencer said.

The controller has two big buttons built in that can be reprogrammed to work as any of the inputs on a standard controller using the Xbox Accessories app. Additionally, the Xbox Adaptive Controller supports external inputs from a range of third-party manufacturers, including PDP, Logitech, and Quadstick (you can see a full list here).

For more on the Adaptive Controller, you can check out a story from GameSpot sister site CNET in which editor Ian Sherr goes inside Microsoft's design lab to find out how the controller was made. The Adaptive Controller launches in September for $100 USD.

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