Xbox’s Adaptive Controller: Progressive or Unrepresentative?

Ever since its creation, gaming has been an all inclusive and fun activity that the whole family can take part in. The only roadblock to that would be the controllers.

Not everyone has the physical capability to properly use traditional controllers, namely people with special needs. Thankfully this all changed in May 2018, when Microsoft revealed their newest project, “the Xbox Adaptive Controller.” Set to release in September, the controller received worldwide praise as there was finally a way for people who either have special needs or disabilities to play the games that other people have always been able to enjoy. The main struggle for people with these disabilities is that they are not able to properly reach the thumb sticks and use the buttons simultaneously. Microsoft attempts to fix this by using a d-pad and two large buttons, which can be used for a variety of functions. The controller also has over twenty 3.5mm ports all along the back and sides which can be used as a way to add more functions to the controller. These add-ons, which are sold separately, can range from extra buttons to replacing an entire joystick.

“I think it’s useful and good that Microsoft is making efforts to allow more people to play,” said senior Brien Mapilin.

Photo from
A picture of Xbox’s adaptive controller.

This almost sounds too good to be true! That’s because it is: one of the biggest downsides to this feature is that most games require more than just six inputs, which unfortunately forces one to spend even more money on extra devices for the functions that most basic controllers already come equipped with. That, coupled with the fact that the controller is priced at $100.00, you could end up with a bill of almost $210.00 for the controller alone (assuming you buy one joystick counterpart and an extra button). This is also the controller alone; the Xbox one X and only a single video game could land you about $550.00. And with everything added up, that’s a grand total of $770.00 (not including tax). The issue of the controller’s price has caused people to speculate Microsoft’s true intentions.

Microsoft advertised their product with their commercial titled “Reindeer Games.” The commercial stared a boy, Owen, who is diagnosed with Escobar Syndrome, as he is about to win a video game. He is playing using Microsoft’s new controller surrounded by a large group of friends who cheer him on and celebrate with him when he wins. The majority of the public seemed ecstatic that Microsoft bought this very real issue to light.

While the controller seemed to bring mostly positive reactions, the commercial, on the other hand, brought a mixed bag. Most viewers seemed to like that Microsoft brought to light real issues that people have to face; others seemed annoyed at the fact that Microsoft seemed to be using these special needs children as a way to coerce people into buying their products by showing an  unlikely scenario.

“It is interesting to see a different person’s point of view, however, it seems disrespectful to use a person and scenario like this to market a product,” said sophomore Sleeves Jackson.

Screenshot taken by Luke McQueen from Microsoft’s Youtube channel
The commercial Reindeer Games.

“I think Microsoft is doing a good thing by helping these special needs kids play games. I see the other side’s point of view, but I think that it’s not a good one,” said freshman Zyandli Pacheco.

Although these complaints seemed to be the overall minority of viewers, they made sure that their voices were heard by leaving a slew of nasty and demeaning comments and dislikes on both the Reindeer Games video and the announcement video on Microsoft’s youtube channel.

The announcement of the Xbox Adaptive Controller brought much speculation along with it. People started to wonder whether or not Microsoft’s competitors, Nintendo and Sony, would create their own rendition of the Xbox Adaptive Controller or simply make those controllers compatible with their systems. At the point of writing this, there has been no such announcements on either of these options from both Nintendo or Sony. This of course is not a problem for computer gaming, as you can connect almost every type of controller to any PC. However, this roadblock has not stopped some people; people all over the world have modded both the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 to forcefully accept the Xbox Adaptive Controller as a means of play.

“I feel it is a bit rude to ignore these wants that these special needs kids have, and I think that those companies would look better if they do make their own version of the controller,” said junior Emmie Do.

To add on to the problem, Xbox has a notorious history of having a relatively bad library when it comes to its games. Therefore, there is a good chance then that the games that these special needs children want to play in the first place is not acc

Luke McQueen
A PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch controller.

essible to them as it may be exclusive to one of the systems without Xbox Adaptive controller connectivity. This predicament could cause some parents to illegally modify their Playstation 4 or Nintendo Switch to into thinking that the Xbox Adaptive Controller is just a controller that would be compatible with their system.

Although some may disagree, Microsoft has done a great service in making sure that video games can be for everyone. Allowing more people to enjoy video games has let these kids to explore worlds and stories that they would have never have been able to do before. While some may decide to focus on the negative by thinking that this is a ploy to buy more Microsoft products, or that other companies do not care for the special needs, there is no doubt that this small invention has greatly improved the lives of many people.