Microsoft’s latest step towards making console gaming a more accessible and inclusive hobby even extends to the packaging involved.
When it was first shown off earlier this year, Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive controller was well received by both its target audience and the wider community they’re a part of.
Rectangular in design and as minimalist as every other Xbox product out there, the Xbox Adaptive Controller boasts comprehensive support for external switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks. Effectively, it allows and empowers users with limited mobility to build a custom controllers experience that is uniquely theirs.
As far as these things go, it’s only the latest move by Microsoft towards more-inclusive product design. This is a direction the company been has really been putting its weight behind in recent years, and that emphasis has even bled into the packaging of the new peripheral.
Speaking to PC World Australia, Kevin Marshall, Creative Director of Design for Microsoft’s Global Packaging and Content arm says that “on our journey of inclusive design at Microsoft, we’re looking at extending that principle or that methodology across the full gamut of consumer experiences which, of course, includes packaging.”
“Packaging has the power to validate and shape positive consumer experiences. It has the potential to drive customer satisfaction levels.”
“Every package is a series of moments and every moment has to be deliberate, it needs to be curated and designed. These moments become experiences, experiences feed perception and perception becomes a consumer’s reality”
Working with groups like The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect and Warfighter Engaged, Microsoft engaged with close to 100 beta testers across many levels of gaming experience and multiple spectrums of mobility - not just when it came to designing the Adaptive Controller but also the testing out the robustness of the packaging for the new add-on.
Mark Weiser, a Packaging Designer at Microsoft’s Global Packaging and Content division, says that this collaborative process was crucial for them to avoid producing a product that their target audience might not be able to unbox.
“The main challenge after getting the feedback was really distilling the needs of these gamers and creating a really simplified and unified experience where all the elements were tied together and matched the device as well.”
According to him, “we’re designing for Xbox users, Xbox brand fans and gamers with limited mobility. We’re creating a package that addresses the accessibility needs of limited mobility gamers in user-specific and unique ways and we wanted to deliver on an unboxing experience - so that these users are able to navigate themselves and that they are able to kick off into gaming confidently and quickly.”
Early feedback highlighted that some of these gamers might not have full-dexterity. Accordingly, the final packaging for the product utilises “loops” - not just for unpacking the box but also for separating the controller itself from the packaging.
“We didn’t want to create something that was othered. We wanted something that fit within the [Xbox] family,” Weiser says.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is available for pre-order now via Microsoft for a price of $129.99. It’ll be available in September.