Sony teased its “Project Leonardo” accessibility controller at CES 2023, and on Thursday it formally introduced a new way to play on the PlayStation 5 with the Access Controller, a highly customizable gamepad built for gamers with disabilities that will be released in December.
Sony has lagged for years behind Microsoft in offering an accessible first-party game controller. The rectangular Xbox Adaptive Controller was launched in 2018 for $100.
Read more: Inside Microsoft’s Lab With the Xbox Adaptive Controller
The PS5-compatible Access Controller is cheaper at $90, but also radically different in design, with large interchangeable buttons radially arranged around a circle with an adjacent joystick for directional control.
That design lets the Access Controller be used from any orientation or direction, said Isabell Tomatis, Sony’s hardware and peripherals vice president, in a blog post. The company has been developing the controller for five years and worked with accessibility organizations and experts to refine its design and features.
The controller comes with 19 differently sized button caps and 23 icons to label each button for which traditional input it corresponds to (X, circle, square, triangle, R1/L1, etc.). It also has four 3.5mm aux expansion ports to plug in additional buttons, switches or accessories, and can save 30 profile configurations for different setups.
While Microsoft has kept the lead on accessible gaming with its Xbox Adaptive Controller and a new line of adaptive accessories released last year, Sony’s new controller will be welcomed by disabled PS5 gamers. The Access Controller can be preordered on the PlayStation website starting July 21 and will go on sale on Dec. 6.
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