Microsoft Helped Make a Modular Xbox Controller for Gamers With Disabilities

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Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft and Byowave are now taking orders for the accessible Proteus controller.
  • It uses a modular design to help gamers with disabilities customize their gamepad.
  • It starts at $255 and ships this fall.

Microsoft and Byowave have teamed up on the Proteus Controller, a modular Xbox gamepad that lets people with disabilities snap together the design they need to play.

The kit provides joinable cubes that each have slots for controller elements like buttons, directional pads, and sticks. There are LED lighting elements as well, and power cubes can turn components into wireless devices. Byowave claimed there were over 100 million possible variations.

The approach theoretically accommodates a very wide range of gamers. You could play using only one hand, for instance, or with only limited motor control.

Pre-orders are available now for a Proteus Standard Kit at a “VIP price” of $255 (normally $299). Byowave ships the first units this fall.

Microsoft announced the Proteus controller as part of a broader effort to accommodate more gamers on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Its existing Xbox Adaptive Controller will support more USB accessories, with up to 12 buttons, a second stick and a hat switch on each port.

Xbox consoles, meanwhile, let you sort games and apps based on accessibility features. Developers now have a toolkit to run accessibility workshops. Microsoft is also aware of complaints that a recent update for “unauthorized accessories” is creating problems for players with disabilities, and is asking both manufacturers and gamers to provide feedback that allows for more hardware.

Major console creators have increasingly focused on supporting gamers with disabilities. Sony, for instance, has its circular PlayStation 5 Access Controller and has made a point of adding extensive support in first-party titles like The Last of Us Part II. Options like Proteus provide more choices and make console purchases more a question of personal preference than choosing the one system and controller that will work.