Microsoft is bringing a new accessibility feature to its Xbox online stores. Starting soon with the Microsoft Store and expanding to its other platforms later, the company will now display tags with accessibility information alongside games so players know whether a game has features they need before making a purchase.
Xbox offers a lot for gamers with disabilities, including a specialized Adaptive Controller for people with limited mobility (though that product costs more than a regular Xbox controller, which is unfortunate). The new accessibility feature addresses a frustration of players with disabilities that they often have to research such information themselves.
Accessible gaming — The tags — everything from a tag for games with subtitles, or narrated game menus — will be rolled out slowly as Microsoft gathers feedback from players. It wants to fine-tune them to meet certain criteria — for instance, a game with subtitles that can’t be resized would not meet the bar to include a subtitles tag. Game publishers themselves will be able to link out to their websites where they describe accessibility features in more detail.
Adaptive technology in video gaming has exploded in recent years, as companies hope to make their games enjoyable to everyone and not make anyone feel excluded. It’s a noble effort, but as this new feature highlights, there’s still plenty to do.
Microsoft hopes the tag system will encourage more developers to build accessibility features into their games from the get-go rather than retrofitting them.