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Microsoft expands Xbox accessibility support, testing options for games

Xbox has expanded its range of accessibility testing options for developers to use, and made its larger ecosystem more accessibility friendly.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 18, 2023

1 Min Read
Graphic of various first-party Xbox franchise characters.

May 18 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Xbox marked the occasion with updates across the board for disabled players. In a newly published blog, the console maker outlined a new string of changes that continue its work to make its games and online services more accessible for developers and players alike. 

One of the developer-focused changes comes to Microsoft's Game Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS) that let devs and publishers test their game's accessibility features. Nearly 120 extra test steps have been added to be used as further criteria, along with another new 124 tags to be used as examples.

Beyond that, the Xbox app for PC users has been given new accessibility settings. Users can now disable background images and animations as a way to "reduce visual confusion that could cause disruption, confusion, or irritation." 

Additionally, the Microsoft Store on the primary Xbox website now allows users to filter games based on their accessibility needs (or preferences), in addition to their supported language. It is possible to find a title with extra audio support, for example, or one with visual options like text size a steady camera.

Another change includes a wider range of support pages for accessibility controls. The support hub was released last year for players to learn about accessibility features on PC and Xbox consoles, and now covers "more than 150 controls" for both platforms, including topics such as visual filters and controller stick configurations. 

For the full list of accessibility-related changes, including those coming to titles such as Hi-Fi Rush and Minecraft Legends, you can read Microsoft's post.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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