Sony’s Project Leonardo is a great step forward for gaming accessibility

3 mins read

But for true accessibility, they must keep the price as low as possible.

Sony announced that they will be releasing a new accessible controller for the PS5, designed in consultation with gaming accessibility charities such as Special Effect and Able Gamers.

Writing on Sony’s Playstation blog, Sony Interactive Entertainment Senior Vice President Hideaki Nishino said that the controller has been designed “to address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small clusters of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller.” 

The round device sits flat on a surface and does not need to be held by the user. Many of the components are designed to be swappable and easy to adjust for individual needs, including an analogue stick which can sit at any angle around the controller, with an adjustable distance. 

It is also designed to have a high level of compatibility with third-party accessories, meaning users will be able to customise their devices to their needs.

Sony’s announcement of this product has been long awaited by some fans of the platform. Microsoft released the Adaptive Controller for Xbox and PC in 2018 and Sony have been slow to catch up.

Sony have not announced a release window for Project Leonardo, nor have they given any indication as to the price. Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller is $99.99, which gives some indication as to the ballpark they will be aiming for. However, this is without a number of important peripherals which are vital to adding full functionality to the controller. A full set-up which mimics the functionality of a standard Xbox controller can cost upwards of $400 if you can find anywhere with parts in stock.

There is no way to call this truly accessible and the same will be true if Sony prices the Project Leonardo device to compete. Disabled people are far more likely to be under economic pressure than able-bodied people and their income for luxury items like video game controllers is restricted. This is a greater concern as the cost of living crisis rages. Although there are charities such as Special Effect and Able Gamers which offer grants and funding, not everyone will be able to access this aid.

To make the PlayStation a truly accessible console, Sony will have to ensure that the price is within reach of the target audience.

Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Student journalist & freelance writer

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