Microsoft announces Adaptive Xbox controller for more accessible gaming

Earlier this week, images of what appeared to be a more accessible Xbox controller emerged online. Now, Microsoft has confirmed the images were real and that the controller will go on sale later this year. 

Called the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the device is intended to be an easy-to-use and affordable way for gamers with limited mobility to play the games standard gamepads have so long created barriers to.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the result of several years work and Microsoft worked with a range of organisations including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect, Warfighter Engaged and Craig Hospital to create it. 

Gaming for everyone

What they’ve developed is a device with two large programmable buttons and an array of inputs that can work with a wide range of other peripherals so that players can put together a set-up that suits their specific needs. While this means it won’t be an all-in-one solution right out of the box for many, it does make it possible to address a wide range of physical needs rather than just one.  

In the UK, Microsoft has been working with Muscular Dystrophy UK and Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information for Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: 

“Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive Controller will make a real difference to disabled people, particularly those with a muscle-wasting condition whose movements will become increasingly limited over time. We know from our own research that video games are important to many disabled people. 

"It allows them to socialise and compete with others on an equal basis, which has a positive effect on their wellbeing. Despite this, more than one in three young, disabled gamers told us they feel excluded due to a lack of accessibility. By working in partnership with Microsoft, we hope that today marks the first step towards a more inclusive video gaming culture.”

This is a significant step from Microsoft in the field of accessible gaming. The gaming industry has become more welcoming in recent years, and Microsoft itself has made some promising changes for vision-impaired users in its software. However, when it comes to accessible controllers, the great majority of them have come from third-party bodies dedicated to the cause of inclusivity. 

With Microsoft actively stepping in with a device of its own that’s widely available, relatively affordable and actually looks like a carefully designed member of the Xbox hardware family we could be seeing a cultural change that’s been a long time coming.

Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller will go on sale later this year for $99.99.

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.