Recent years have seen significant progress in the accessibility of video games, with developers and hardware manufacturers increasingly accommodating players with disabilities through features such as colour blindness and modifiable inputs. One of the key figures in the development of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, an adaptable controller that can be customized to accommodate players with physical disabilities, has stated that efforts to further expand access have reached “a bit of a plateau.”
According to PC Gamer, Bryce Johnson, co-inventor of the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Inclusive Lead at Microsoft Devices, made the remarks while speaking about the controller.
However, despite the fact that it appears to be a major problem, it has surprisingly come from a relatively positive place, with devices such as the XAC having assisted in addressing many of the issues that players with disabilities may encounter.
When Microsoft first released the XAC in 2018, it was hailed as a monumental step forward in the quest for greater accessibility. Through a variety of add-ons that could be customized to meet their specific requirements, the Xbox accessory allowed people with disabilities to more fully participate in the video games they enjoyed.
The XAC’s main deck is comprised of two large main buttons that can be assigned to any function by using the Xbox Accessories application. There are nineteen 3.5mm jacks on the back and two USB ports on the sides, allowing for the addition of additional components.
Each corresponds to a specific function on a standard Xbox controller, allowing players to connect a variety of devices, such as switches, individual buttons, and larger thumbsticks, that assist them in using a specific feature in the game.
With the XAC’s hyper-modular design – combined with a purposefully low entry price of £74.99 ($99.99) for the main deck, as well as cross-compatibility with Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC – it has reached the plateau Johnson mentions, with most modern gaming control quirks largely replicable for less mobile players.
“We’re at a loss for what to do next,” Johnson told PC Gamer, adding that “all of the low-hanging fruit has pretty much been picked off the tree.”
Johnson, on the other hand, is upbeat, noting that “in a very short period of time, the gaming community has really done quite a bit to promote and make games more accessible.” Johnson is also optimistic about the future.