Sony has been a pioneer of video game accessibility, winning numerous awards for its efforts in first-party games such as The Last of Us: Part 2, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok. This has become a trademark of PS Studios, and the organization’s efforts are becoming more ambitious with each release. The result is that more and more people are able to play its games.
But when it comes to hardware, the platform holder is lagging behind. While the PS5 comes with a suite of accessibility features at the operating system level, such as the ability to zoom in on the screen and remap controls, DualSense itself can be a barrier for people with physical disabilities; The mere act of holding the pad can be a challenge for some.
That’s where the company’s new accessibility controller, Project Leonardo, comes in – and according to boss Jim Ryan, it’s an accessory that’s been in development for a while. “Project Leonardo is a product we have been developing for years, with the aim of creating something that is truly unique and caters to a wide range of players with different physical needs,” he explained. Wired. “It’s really a toolbox for you to customize your gaming experience the way you want.”
Sony is pitching the device as not just a controller, but a hardware kit, which is fully customizable. One of its key features is its split shape, which allows the user to position it as needed. “We ultimately settled on a split controller design that allows for freeform left/right thumbstick repositioning, can be used without the need to hold it, and highly flexible button and stick caps,” said designer So Morimoto. Swapping is a feature. “Because players can customize it to their needs, there is no ‘perfect’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own structures.”
Ryan summed up Sony’s aims: “We’re working towards a future where players of all abilities can share in the joy of gaming. Whether through in-game accessibility settings, platform UI features, or new products like Project Leonardo, our PS Studio and product development teams are deeply passionate about making this a reality. It is our hope that the gaming industry will become even more inclusive, and we are grateful to be a part of this journey.
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