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May
17
2018

Microsoft developing a new controller for the less able gamer: Meet the Xbox Adaptive Controller

As a blog that has always aimed to make technology understandable to the masses, we at Technically Motivated champion any attempt by a major corporation to create technology that caters for the less able user. So when we heard that Microsoft have unveiled an Xbox One controller designed with the differently-abled in mind, we naturally had to take a look.

A picture of the XBox Adaptive Controller

Image courtesy Microsoft
(click to enlarge)

Officially named the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft’s latest creation – which will actually support both XBox and Windows PCs – is billed as ‘the most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company’. As Microsoft tells it, When a customised controller from non-profit veterans’ organisation Warfighter Engaged caught the eye of a Microsoft engineer back in 2014, Microsoft decided to create its own disability-friendly controller for the following year’s Hackathon, which is where this project began. Refinements followed a year later; but it was the release of the Copilot function – which allows two Xbox One controllers to be treated as a single controller – that led Microsoft to declare their new controller concept ready for launch.

In fact, Copilot is actually the key to how this new controller becomes adaptable for a wide range of disabilities. Designed to be used on a desktop surface, the Xbox Adaptive Controller features all number of ports to allow additional controllers, headsets, switches and other assistive devices to expand on its base capabilities, allowing a user to create a custom gaming solution whereby a user can combine many different controls into a workable solution for their own body. The ports are labelled such that the user doesn’t need to turn or pick up the device to see what goes where; and each controller can function as one or more physical buttons according to the user’s needs. The Adaptive Controller itself sports two giant buttons, mapped to the A and B of a standard Xbox controller and with enough spacing to allow a hand to rest in between; along with a D-Pad and other smaller control buttons to the left side.

Microsoft have explained the full story behind the controller on their Story Labs, which also gives further details about the upcoming product. The Xbox Adaptive Controller will launch later this year, and will retail for $100 in the US, which is likely to translate to around £100 in the UK after the inclusion of VAT.

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    Previous Articles


    Jul
    24
    2013

    Microsoft: Everyone can make XBox One Games – via XBox One

    The next generation of console gaming may have finally found its niche – as the generation that blurs the line between video game players and video game creators. That's according to a new announcement by Microsoft, which confirms – like Sony with the PS4 – that XBox One owners can use the next-gen console as their very own development kit.

    Xbox's corporate vice president Marc Whitten said that all Xbox Ones will function as development kits, which are usually only available to licensed developers. This will give everyone who owns an XBox One the tools to build their own XB1 games as part of the very system they're playing them on – a trend Ouya started with its independently-focused Android-based console; and subsequently adopted by Sony for the Playstation 4. To add to the appeal, reports spreading on the internet claim Microsoft will allow indie developers to self-publish on the Xbox One, though Microsoft are yet to comment on this part of the equation.

    UPDATE: However, the functionality WON'T be available immediately at the console's launch; it will be installed on all consoles at a later date.

    Here's Microsoft's official comment:

    Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at gamescom in August.

    Let me be the first to claim this day, Global Gamedev Independence Day 🙂

    UPDATED TO ADD:

    Mark Whitten added in late-breaking news today that independently-published games will have just as much potential for exposure as professionally-published games, with Microsoft having no intention to separate the two from the future XBox Live Marketplace:

    "My goal is for it to just show up in the marketplace. Of course there will be different pivots inside of that. There will be everything from what are we curating, kind of like spotlight content, to the normal discoverability stuff like recommendations, what's trending, what's got a lot of engagement on the platform. And you'd be able to find that content in any of those. There wouldn't be any difference based on what type of game it was. Then of course there will be other type of pivots where you can go and look at whether its a genre of game or any other. But you shouldn't think of it as there's an indie area and a non-indie area.

    Just as today, where we will highlight things that are coming in on the service, we want to make that more discoverable. We'll make it things that we curate as well as the other ways that you find content whether that's what your friends are doing or what we recommend based on your play behaviour. Or top listings. We want to make sure we have all of those types of discoverability mechanisms."

    Microsoft are yet to comment on whether indie developers will experience any cost to their own pockets to acquire devkits or publish their games. But you WILL have full rights to charge for the games if you prefer; and pricing is aimed to be similar to today's Xbox 360 Marketplace.

    With little else revealed, Whitten says we'll have to wait to Gamescon to know the rest of the details. Stay tuned!

    Jul
    24
    2013

    Xbox One Game Prices Announced For UK

    Set to retail with an RRP of £49.99, compared to $59.99 in the States.

    Microsoft has announced Xbox One games in the UK will come with a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of £49.99.

    OXM spotted the prices on the company's online store, which currently lists Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5 and Kinect Sports Rivals for that price.

    Last month, Microsoft announced that first-party Xbox One games would be sold in North America for $59.99, which is the same price games are currently sold for there. In terms of the UK, it's worth remembering that retailers are likely to undercut Microsoft – in fact, Amazon is already listing Need for Speed Rivals at £43.99.

    Sony has yet to announce any UK pricing for its games, though the company has similarly confirmed an American price point of $59.99.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Jul
    12
    2013

    Fans Create Petition To Bring Back Xbox One DRM Policies

    Turns out the internet is not quite as united on the issue of DRM as we were led to believe. A fan by the name of David Fontenot has started a petition on Change.org claiming that “consumers were uninformed” during the initial outcry against the DRM policies that were announced with the new Xbox One.

    To review, when the Xbox One was initially announced at E3 in June, it was also announced that the Xbox One would have to log in via internet connection every 24 hours to verify ownership. If a log in was missed, gamers would not be able to use their consoles to play games until a connection was re-established. Microsoft also talked about their game sharing and trading policies, stating that games used games could be resold, given as gifts, and even resold to retailers, but this could only be done once per game license.

    And as they are wont to do, gamers got a bit upset.

    After about two weeks of listening to their fans’ rage, Xbox announced that they would be repealing their DRM policies on the Xbox One, and the system would operate largely the same as the 360 does currently, with no online requirement and infinitely resell-able games. Unfortunately, along with the removal of DRM, came the loss of several features that were announced with the Xbox One, namely the ability to trade and resell digital licenses for games, and play your games on any Xbox One.

    What really needs to happen here is that both parties need to step back, take a deep breath, and really look at what each side is asking for. Xbox made a serious misstep in their initial release statement by claiming that “every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection”, and not highlighting that it is the DRM policies that allowed several of their notable new features to operate. This situation exacerbated by Phil Spencer’s sarcastic claim that “We have a product for people who can’t access the internet, it’s called Xbox 360”.

    The fan response could have been a little more controlled as well. Any appearance of the letters DRM these days seems to cause an immediate, visceral reaction in gamers, leading to copious quantities of “nerd rage” and not a lot of well thought out research and reasoned discussion. Perhaps a calm complaint would have elicited a more informative response from the executives at Microsoft, than the wave of outrage that was put forward.

    So where do you stand on the Xbox One DRM policies? Do you want the many-featured, but DRM restricted Xbox? Or are you in the DRM free, but less innovative camp? Let us know in the comments below, or over in the forums. To check out the petition, head over to http://www.change.org/petitions/microsoft-give-us-back-the-xbox-one-we-were-promised-at-e3-2

    ~kemosaabi

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Jun
    19
    2013

    Microsoft U-Turn on XBox One Plans

    When the XBox One was revealed at E3 earlier this month, many details were revealed about the console that caused widespread criticism of the console by both players, press and gaming journalists alike. I'm sure by now you've read the myriads of articles about it; but if not, here's a quick recap: The console would require an internet connection every 24 hours to check validity of licences to play any games stored on the console (possibly being unusable for gaming if a connection could not be established); used games could only be transferred to a new owner once; reactivating a third-hand game would cost a fee and games could not be resold for less than 90% of their original value (meaning buying used games could end up MORE expensive than buying them new); and so on.

    After soon being followed by Sony's announcement of the PS4 allowing full sharing of disk-based games just by giving the game away like you would do today, lack of online requirement and £100 lower price tag, Microsoft were looking like real losers in this year's "console wars" (an endearing term given by the media to explain the concept of gaming consoles battling for control of the market by selling the most consoles). Even Nintendo got a pot shot in, with Satoru Iwata revealing in an interview his view on controlling the trade of used games:

    "The best possible countermeasure against people buying used product is making the kind of product that people never want to sell. Taking as an example Mario Kart or Smash Bros., even though you might think, 'I’ve done enough with this,' you’ll still have second thoughts. 'Wait a minute. If one of my friends comes over, I might need this again.' You’re never going to want to sell these games. That’s something that always occupies our minds. We need to make software that players don’t want to sell."

    It seems Microsoft have finally thrown in the towel and admitted their plans to control usage of their console AND trade of used games just isn't going to work. Today, in an official posting on XBox Wire, Microsoft announced a complete reversal of their strategy, ditching the online requirement and removing control over used games.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Jan
    25
    2012

    Rumour: Microsoft phasing out Microsoft Points

     

    A rumour making the rounds today is Microsoft will phase out its Microsoft Points currency by year's end, in favour of real currency. According to InsideMobileApps, the change will affect Windows Phone, the Zune Marketplace and Xbox Live.

     

    The site claims "a source" provided the information and notes that mobile developers with Microsoft publishing agreements are being told to plan their upcoming downloadable content and in-app purchases in accordance with the change. Finally, customers with Microsoft Point balances at the time of conversion will have it switched to the their local currency.

     

    Two developers we spoke to who are working on Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live content told us they hadn't heard anything about such a conversion. However, both noted that sometimes Microsoft doesn't tell them about major changes until it becomes need to know. They also hadn't heard whispers about the conversion until we contacted them.

     

    Checking in with Microsoft, a company spokesperson told us: "We do not comment on rumour or speculation."

     

    Update: Microsoft Switzerland has reportedly told Gbase.de that the rumour is not true. The Google translation is a bit confusing, but it roughly translates: "We can not confirm these rumours – we are currently satisfied with the current Xbox Live Business model."

    Oct
    03
    2011

    Rumour: Comcast, Verizon Coming to the Xbox 360

    Subscription-based streaming TV allegedly on they way.

    According to a new report from Bloomberg today, Microsoft is planning to partner with Comcast and Verizon to offer subscription-based streaming television service on the Xbox 360.

    Citing sources “with knowledge of the situation,” Bloomberg says that the company is in talks with two dozen networks and media service providers in both the United States and Europe, including HBO, Crackle, Bravo, SyFy, and LoveFilm in the UK.

    The report falls in line with other recent rumours, as well as Microsoft’s presentation at this year’s E3, where they demoed Kinect-enabled television control.

    Most importantly, sources suggest the announcement of the new services could arrive as soon as next week.

    Jul
    15
    2011

    Rumour: Microsoft blurring line between Windows and Xbox for upcoming Windows 8 OS?

    New rumours spreading around the Blogosphere today make the tantalising proposition that Microsoft may be considering baking in support for XBox 360 games and services within the upcoming next generation of their market-leading (for better or worse) Operating System, Windows. Numerous explanations have been given as cause of this rumour, but chief among them is a new entry in the error message tables for Windows that was discovered in closed Beta builds of the upcoming system, which stated: “Could not read XBox 360 disk media”.

    In addition, with Microsoft known to be working on a Software Development Kit for using Kinect on Windows computers; and Microsoft’s own admission that they’d like to see the technology incorporated beyond the XBox, many claim Microsoft may also be planning to bake Kinect support into Windows directly.

    Microsoft have yet to confirm or deny either rumour, which come from multiple sources, some more trustworthy than others. But knowing a little about Microsoft current conceptualising for the next Windows platform, we can draw some conclusions which give the rumours some support. We already know that Windows 8, as it is being called currently, is taking many design philosophies from Windows Phone 7, including the tiled interface and web widgets. One reason for this, as revealed by Microsoft, is to make the interface more intuitive to touch-screens. Microsoft claim two reasons for taking this measure: Firstly, Microsoft want Windows 8 to support as many different types of input as possible, in order to make for a seamless experience. Could this also include Kinect?

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Microsoft claim they wish to unify the Windows experience across several devices; and believe it is best achieved by making a single system that can easily be adapted to any device the consumer wants – from traditional computer, to tablet device, to smartphone and possibly even TVs. In this case, Windows 8 can be seen as a replacement for the Windows Phone system as well as the next step for the personal computer system. One of the key selling points in recent launches of Windows Phone has been its tight integration with XBox live services, which range from profile management to actually being able to play certain games through the phone. If Microsoft integrates XBox 360 support directly into Windows 8, then brings Windows 8 into smart phones, the XBox gaming platform may suddenly become bigger, stronger and capable of even more games and features than ever; plus game developers will suddenly find they’d only need to develop for one platform to potentially target several. This could be the killer combination that puts Windows for smart devices firmly on the map.

    What’s your take on all this? Let us know in the comments.