Last year, Microsoft launched its Xbox Adaptive Controller. The peripheral, which is designed for gamers with various accessibility challenges, was intended to serve as a central hub for the specialized components some gamers need to interact with titles more effectively. While the XAC was hailed for being affordable and innovative, it only provided two buttons and a D-pad, with 19 separate ports for other buttons, dials, and peripherals to connect.
Microsoft’s rationale for the design was simple: It isn’t possible to build a controller (or even a handful of controllers) that could cover every conceivable use-case that various people require in order to play. Rather than trying to build peripherals for specific types of impairment, why not build a common platform that gamers could use to construct their own controllers?
The XAC, however, isn’t a complete platform in its own right. When we talked to Logitech, the company stressed that it wasn’t really enough to buy an Xbox Adaptive Controller and start playing; players needed to purchase additional buttons and devices, which can run $40 – $75 per individual button. Logitech has developed its own add-on kit for the XAC, the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit. The $99 kit ships with 12 discrete buttons that plug into an XAC’s 3.5mm jacks. The 12 buttons are:
3x round buttons (2.6-inch diameter)3x round buttons (1.4-inch diameter)4x touch buttons2x variable triggers
Twelve buttons for $99 is an excellent deal if Logitech’s quality is as good as advertised. The kit also comes with two configurable game mats with a hook-and-loop system for mounting the buttons on a board. According to Logitech, even the packaging design is specifically intended to be accessible, with exterior tape that pulls away in a single easy motion and no heat-sealed plastic packaging inside the box to make it difficult for users to assemble the hardware. There are labels included for each button so that gamers can label them according to the controller button they replace. Even the color of the mats was a deliberate choice, to make certain that gamers with low vision could properly distinguish between the buttons and the background of the mounting mat. Logitech has published a video about the design and work that went into engineering the Adaptive Gaming Kit, embedded below:
Logitech spent several years on the project, paring away at margins and working to bring down the overall product price. During our discussion with the company, Logitech Product Manager Mark Starrett walked us through various aspects of how the buttons were designed, including the work that went into ensuring they pressed equally well from any angle or when off-center, or how variable triggers were important to bringing racing games to the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
I don’t want to pass verdict on a product I haven’t tested, but if Logitech’s hardware lives up to its billing, the company has done some real good here — and hopefully helped make gaming more accessible to a group of people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford it.
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