Microsoft has made some choices over the past few years that have really pushed the idea of ”gaming for everyone.” Game Pass is one of the cheapest ways to instantly get a library full of great games, including our 2021 GOTY Valheim. (opens in a new tab)and more recently Persona 5 Royal (opens in a new tab). The Microsoft Adaptive controller is another great example of how the company is working to make gaming more accessible to everyone, and it almost never happened.
As reported by The Verge (opens in a new tab), Microsoft almost cut the Adaptive Controller during development. When funding cuts were made to projects, the now widely acclaimed Adaptive Controller was close to the chopping block. The only reason it ended up seeing the light of day was because of how hard people working within the company fought to keep it around.
“There was a time when the Xbox controller, which was designed for accessibility, was on the cut list,” Robin Seiler, COO and CVP for Windows and Devices at Microsoft told The Verge. “Across teams, Xbox and Surface, we said, ‘No, this is actually important to the world. This is not about revenue or brand positioning; it’s just important that people can play games if they want to.'”
Considering the concept came from a hackathon project within Microsoft, it’s clear that the Adaptive Controller was important to people. Pushing to keep it going despite budget cuts is a big effort to make sure more people can interact more effectively with their devices, for gaming and other projects.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft has since learned quite a bit about marketing with the Adaptive Controller, and has since won several awards for innovation. Hopefully we won’t see any more big-wig attempts to stop this accessibility train in the interest of cost-cutting.
This does not seem to be the next big obstacle for Microsoft’s Adaptive technology. Instead, it’s ideas. We recently spoke with the inventor of the Adaptive Controller (opens in a new tab), Bryce Johnson, who although happy with the direction of the technique is not too sure what to do next. It leads to some strange products that claim to be accessible, but don’t really offer much use just trying to cash in on the market.
Still, it’s great to see accessibility come to the forefront of thinking when it comes to developing new hardware. Microsoft has already expanded into mainstream computing devices with the Surface Adaptive Accessories and even Nintendo has been revealed to be looking into its own adaptive controller. (opens in a new tab). There is also a way you can help 3D print controllers for people who need them (opens in a new tab).