Project Leonardo makes PS5 exclusives more inclusive however is it enough?

By the time Forspoken hits shelves for its launch, PlayStation 5 users may have identified what the sport plays like for a month. The remainder of us peasants on PC, who did not have access to the PlayStation 5-exclusive demo, will be experiencing the game’s mechanics for the very first time. Normally, short-term console exclusives and demos aren’t a big deal. But for disabled players like myself, the release of Forspoken sharing January with the announcement of Project Leonardo — Sony’s tackle an accessible controller — highlights PlayStation’s lag in hardware accessibility.

Revealed at Sony’s CES 2023 press conference, Project Leonardo’s design differs from Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC). Where the XAC functions as a hub to plug switches and buttons into, Project Leonardo is designed to have most of what you need as a “highly customisable controller kit” that works out of the field.

In different words, the XAC is analogous to a customized challenge you’ve principally crafted yourself with a single tool, whereas Project Leonardo is a DIY package with some pre-made components offered by its manufacturer. Both have flexibility in thoughts, enable for custom attachments with 3.5mm AUX ports, and have been made with consultation from non-profits AbleGamers and SpecialEffect, but take slightly completely different approaches to realize their objective of inclusive gaming.

It’s about time that we now have extra options. While an acquaintance of mine just lately celebrated the flexibility to sport again with the XAC, its large, boxy construction didn’t look like it’d match my needs. Like my XAC-loving friend, I have a progressive neuromuscular incapacity, however I’ve discovered that smaller devices I can use with one hand usually accommodate me extra comfortably. Thus, when considering my options for PC gaming, I opted for the common Razer Tartarus V2 keypad and Viper Mini mouse over the specifically designed XAC. It’s likely that Project Leonardo, with its smaller, circular form, might be a greater fit for me.

But the biggest purpose to celebrate Project Leonardo is that, at lengthy last, gamers who want customisable controllers will be able to play PS5 exclusives.

Exclusivity has worked nicely as a enterprise mannequin for Sony in latest times, as one of the best PS5 games rack up accolade after accolade. Ironically, some of these accolades are for improvements in recreation accessibility, with Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us maybe being Sony’s most outstanding winner. The message rings clear: if you would like some of the greatest experiences in gaming, purchase your self a PlayStation. Unfortunately, the console’s incompatibility with the XAC and different accessible hardware relegated a large chunk of disabled avid gamers to sitting on the sidelines whereas our peers played on.

As an average gamer, I’m disappointed whenever I see a recreation is unique to PlayStation consoles. As a games journalist, I’m frustrated. Last yr, as accessibility critiques for The Last of Us Part 1’s remake rolled out, I felt like I was barred from doing my job. One of the principle promoting factors of The Last of Us now may be Naughty Dog’s willingness to push the boundaries in accessibility. But I couldn’t play; I needed to anticipate the PC port’s launch date, similar to I’ve waited for Forspoken and am waiting for Project Leonardo.

With all that mentioned, I do have reservations in course of Project Leonardo. I fear its existence might be used by Sony to double down on its tendency in the direction of exclusivity – exclusion by another term. Manifestations of disabilities are profoundly diversified; there’s no guarantee Project Leonardo will fit each disabled person. And design-wise, it lacks the touchpad and haptics of its siblings in the DualSense sequence, which function as accessibility aids for folks with motor, vision, and listening to disabilities. It’s a step in the proper path, however after waiting nearly 5 years for a PlayStation counterpart to the XAC, it falls wanting my expectations already.

In future iterations of the PlayStation, I’d like to see Sony do away with exclusivity, when it comes to hardware compatibility and games, whereas nonetheless offering options for accessible controllers. Exclusivity as a enterprise model may be working nonetheless, however it could only do so much in the long term.

And if Project Leonardo isn’t compatible with my needs, I’ll be forced to wait for the PC ports to reach – that is, if they ever do.

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