Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is coming to Windows 10 PCs later this year

Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller

After a week of rumours and leaked images, Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is finally official – and it works with Windows 10 PCs, too. Designed to let people with limited mobility play games with their own button, joystick and switch setups, the controller is a fantastic step toward making games more accessible to those who can’t use a traditional Xbox controller or mouse and keyboard. 

It connects to your Windows 10 PC via Bluetooth and comes with a whopping nineteen 3.5mm jack inputs dotted around the back, allowing you to remap every Xbox controller button imaginable to whatever assistive input device you like. You also get two USB ports for left and right thumbstick inputs, a 3.5mm stereo headset jack and your traditional Xbox, View and Menu buttons.

The Adaptive Controller doesn’t necessarily need to act as a central hub device, though, as it can also be used as a standalone controller thanks to its two huge black buttons. Light to press and and fully programmable, each one can be remapped to whatever button function you like using the free Xbox Accessories app you can download from the Windows 10 Store.

Out of the box, those buttons will bring up the Xbox dashboard nav on your PC, but those wedded to Steam need not fear, as Windows 10’s Xbox app still lists every game that’s currently installed on your PC, so it should still be relatively easy to launch your favourite games. Of course, the controller is also compatible with Microsoft’s existing Copilot feature, which links a pair of controllers together so two people can play as one from different gamepads.

Xbox Adaptive Controller ports

If all that wasn’t enough, you can also create up to three extra controller profiles (in addition to the default one) using the Xbox Accessories app. To switch between them, all you need to do is tap the small white button above the d-pad. The Adaptive Controller also has a rechargeable internal battery so it can be used on the go, but you can plug it into the mains via USB-C or a regular DC power cable as well if your assistive setup requires a more substantial power draw.

Naturally, gaming charities have welcomed the controller as a huge step forward for accessible gaming, and UK charity SpecialEffect was one such organisation that worked with Microsoft directly to help bring it about. Dr Mick Dongean, CEO of SpecialEffect said:

“This has been a milestone collaboration for us. Our experience in helping people with complex physical disabilities to access video games has enabled us to provide not only very relevant advice about features and design, but also direct feedback from a user-centred perspective. Microsoft has a product here that has the potential to help many people globally to enjoy the magic of video games.”

The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be available later this year from the Microsoft Store for £74.99.

21 Comments

  1. JohnnyK says:

    I am really excited for this. Maybe I can finally get back to playing minecraft with my sons.

  2. Ghostwise says:

    My hands are still usable so I can make do with a Razer Tartarus, but it’s nice to see this.

  3. woodsey says:

    When I saw the headline and header image I thought they’d finally cracked, but this is actually really cool.

    There’s a good NoClip interview on accessibility in games from a few months back that was pretty illuminating as an able-bodied player: link to youtube.com

    I had no idea that videogame subtitles could be so awful either.

  4. Eleven says:

    If they price it well and keep it available, this controller is likely to be popular, just for setting a well-supported standard. I’m sure that it will also get repurposed as a general PC input device, as you can do stuff like browsing the web pretty successfully using a x360 pad and widely available software.

  5. Tony M says:

    Now even more people can school me in multiplayer games. Good. Everyone deserves games.

  6. Bishop149 says:

    Very cool, I was initially quite confused by the combination of two MASSIVE buttons combined with a perfectly normal sized D-pad and what that might imply about dexterity, but I guess given the VAST customisation options what’s actually on the box isn’t especially relevant.
    I worry about how it and all it’s accessories might be priced however, I’d imagine a highly custom set up could get rather pricey.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Hopefully the audio jacks etc will mean it ends up being copied/etc and really cheap?

    • chezfromage says:

      The 3.5mm jacks are industry standard, so buttons and whatnot are already widely available. (Shocker: they’re still not cheap.) Also, some other site said the device will be $100USD on release, but who knows how Microsoft will convert that to pounds and ounces. Custom “breakout boxes” from accessibility vendors usually cost several times as much, so that price directly from Microsoft is pretty fantastic. Hope that helps!

  7. Freud says:

    Awesome.

  8. aircool says:

    …and yet you still can’t get a decent ‘Colourblind’ mode in games, or a quality left-handed flight stick.

  9. plume says:

    Four Smarties and a turntable on strings. How lovely!

  10. Gregbo says:

    I am currently boycotting MS for 15 months since they locked up that guy that was burning free Windows install software to CDs and providing it to customers as a service so that they could get their old laptops up and running. His sentence is 15 months, so thats how long I am boycotting any service that brings revenue to MS.

    That being said, I am glad theyre making products like this. The bastards.

    • Excors says:

      According to this article he spent $80,000 on copying the CDs and intended to sell them (presumably at a profit). Also “what Lundgren eventually pleaded guilty to was making these Dell refurbishers’ customers believe that they were obtaining a genuine Dell-branded “Reinstallation Disc” with Dell’s blessing, when in actuality, they weren’t”. So it’s not like he was behaving totally honestly and altruistically. I won’t disagree that 15 months seems a bit silly, though.

      Anyway, this new controller seems both morally good and financially probably loss-making, so that’s two reasons for you to support it.

      • dontnormally says:

        His only fuckup was making the disks look exactly like original OEM restore disks, including including the company logos.

        The companies were not selling nor had they made available these disks, which were not possible to use without already owning licenses and having keys.

        His punishment is a disgusting affront to decency. Microsoft and Dell should be ashamed.

    • durrbluh says:

      I recently picked up a new SSD and wanted to reinstall my Dell OEM Win7 on there, and the amount of googling and tweaking required in order to make that happen really frustrated me. So I get what he was trying to accomplish with his $0.25 copies of (perfectly legitimate) Windows disc images.

      Sadly, my cynicism makes me assume this adaptive controller is MS trying to spin positive PR following April’s legal shitshow.

  11. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    I’m lucky enough to be able-bodied and will remain a mouse+keyboard die-hard as long as my wrists can take the punishment, but this is a super-cool development. This article doesn’t link to the MS news post, but it’s well worth a read: link to news.microsoft.com

    Side note, I can’t get over how much this looks like a little modular synth or MIDI drum brain. A quote from the news post: “don’t infantilize the device – don’t make it look like a Fisher-Price toy”. Fuckin right. This is a nice-looking piece of hardware.

  12. dontnormally says:

    My first thought is that this would be awesome as the basis for DIY music and robot controllings.

  13. racccoon says:

    It does look tempting. I can not stray from keyboard and mouse as I love it! :).
    And as I didn’t have a past pic, I made this for my amiga friends and anyone who wanted one years ago.
    (just made in silodemo a second a ago) link to oi64.tinypic.com lol

  14. Gomisan says:

    This is exciting for projects that want custom control interfaces in all sorts of ways. Space Simulators anyone? When I built a custom ‘cockpit’ board for playing Elite I had to use a joystick to USB board to wire in microswitches etc. This would have been awesome.

    • Theon says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. You could hook up all kinds of buttons and switches, pedals intended for piano keyboards, etc, and make a full cockpit.
      That, or use it as a music macro mixer thingy.
      I doubt people with disability will be the primary customer group for this. Just like the Kinect wasn’t primarily used for waggle games, but instead for motion capture, 3D scanning and VR rooms.

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