The Proteus Controller is a $299 modular input device for players with disabilities and Microsoft has more good news for accessibility

The ByoWave Proteus modular controller, designed for players with disabilities for Microsoft as part of the Designed by Xbox program, with a hand outstretched over the modular units and controls on a table
(Image credit: ByoWave)

As part of the company's recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness day, Microsoft has announced a number of accessibility updates for Xbox and PC gamers, including a preorder release announcement for the ByoWave Proteus modular controller, a modular "snap and play" peripheral designed for gamers with disabilities created as part of the Designed for Xbox program.

The controller offers both PC and Xbox support, and has been designed to allow gamers the ability to snap together its various components in "over 100 million traditional and custom configuration and LED lighting variations". That should mean that players who have difficulty using regular gaming controllers are able to reconfigure the device into something more comfortable and easier to use than a standard gaming device.

There is a slight drawback, however, and that's the price. While the controller is currently available for preorder at a "VIP Price" for a limited number of units at $255, its regular retail MSRP is a whopping $299, although the functionality and design on display here does seem to make it something of a unique solution for those who struggle with regular controls.

Several linkable blocks make up the body of the controller, with a selection of recognizable buttons, thumbsticks, triggers and pads that look to be configurable in all sorts of ways, with the press photos showing removable face plates, several different configurations for holding the device, and some funky LED lighting.

Microsoft is also updating its Xbox Adaptive Controller to include support for more accessories connected via the USB port. Each port now supports up to 12 buttons, a second stick, and a hat switch, and the update is planned to be rolled out to Xbox Insiders over the next few weeks.

Accessibility features in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 were also announced, including setting menu updates for accessibility features and a new preset that's designed to reduce the physical effort required to press multiple buttons at once.

A new Game Accessibility Workshop Toolkit has been made available to developers looking to make games more inclusive, including instructions and visual assets designed to help devs design games with accessibility in mind.

For those with disabilities these updates seem well worth a look, and as for that controller, I really wouldn't mind having a go on one myself. While it looks impressive from a design point of view, controllers designed to make gaming a more inclusive experience are a vital piece in the puzzle for wider gaming accessibility for all.

While it might be a pricey bit of kit, it's good to see lateral thinking and clever design applied in a way that might enable more players to enjoy games in comfort.

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Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.