We all knew it was coming and now Microsoft has officially announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller – a new device that makes it easier for people with accessibility needs to play video games. Check out the announcement video for yourself:
The adaptive controller is a beautifully designed piece of hardware. While it may seem to be very simplistic at first glance, the adaptive controller is actually the most flexible and customizable video game controller ever developed by a console manufacturer.
The most visually obvious aspects of the new controller are the two large face buttons on top of the unit. They are extremely sensitive – even a light touch is enough to register as a button press. Don’t be fooled though, those two buttons are only the beginning. Check out the rear view of the adaptive controller. Every single button on a stock controller is represented by a 3.5 mm port on the back of the unit. There are even ports for Up, Down, Right and Left functions on a D-pad. You will be able to plug in all sorts of inputs like microphones, breath controllers or foot pedals into the controller and they will function as an assigned button. Imagine connecting left and right foot pedals into the adaptive controller and using them for acceleration and brakes in Forza games or using an array of oversized buttons in Tekken 7. This could be a game changer for a player who does not have full use of both hands. You can remap every button through the Xbox Accessories app to create a controller designed for your specific needs.
There are USB ports on the left and right sides of the device. Players can plug in joysticks and use them in place of the smaller analog sticks. I have reached out and asked if keyboards could be used in place of joysticks and I will update this article when I receive a response. (The fine folks over at The Able Gamers Charity tell me that they are hard at work testing the capabilities of this device and are helping with beta software.) Existing inputs will work on the adaptive controller but Microsoft is also planning to release several optional accessories like oversized analog sticks and buttons. Several existing third party controllers will also work with the adaptive controller like this joystick from Logitech.
The Copilot feature works on the adaptive controller just like it would on any other Xbox One controller. That means you can pair a stock controller with the new device in any configuration you like. A player who only has full use of one hand can use the stock controller for the left analog stick and trigger while using the adaptive controller for other functions.
“As I discussed at the annual DICE conference in February, when we truly design for all, we help make the world more equal,” wrote Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox team at Microsoft. The designers have worked closely with organizations such as The Able Gamers Charity and Craig Hospital to ensure that the adaptive controller meets the needs of a wide variety of players with diverse accessibility needs.
The adaptive controller will cost $99.99 on release and will only be available through the Microsoft Store. Expect more details about the controller to be revealed during E3 week.