Xbox Reveals Several New Accessibility Tools For Developers

The Microsoft accessibility news continues as part of Ability Summit 2022.

CVP of Game Creator Experience & Ecosystem, Sarah Bond, was on hand today to discuss a few of the many additions the company’s gaming wing is adding so that we all play and we all win.

If you haven’t already read about Minecraft: Education Edition’s new BuildAbility world, do that now!

Xbox has also freshened up on a commitment made last year to add Accessibility Feature Tags so that designers can easily use metadata tags to express to players can quickly in Xbox’s catalogue of games for sale and on Game Pass that their game has the right level of accommodation to meet unique needs.

Game Pass has quickly become one of the most trusted and appreciated resources for gamers with disabilities because it can be an exhausting process trying to get details on accessibility options in games prior to launch, and the return process for games that don’t meet your level of accommodation need is often arduous. Many disabled gamers have begun trading data on games and their accessibility levels.

The best time to think about making your game accessible for all is when you’ve first begun thinking about your game. But it can be hard to know where to start and there are plenty of misconceptions about the time, financial investment, and workforce energy it takes to make a game accessible. Microsoft removed a lot of that pressure when the published the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines back in October of 2019. Yesterday, they dropped Version 3, which includes a new mental health guideline, as well as information on motion sickness and expanded details on text sizing, audio, difficulty, UI, and pretty much every other stage of development. If you are looking to learn about game accessibility at all, you would be foolish not to visit this public compendium of lessons from Microsoft and their partnered studios. Frankly, it almost feels like stealing from some of the greatest minds in game accessibility!

However, if you want to steal just a little more, There’s now the Microsoft Developer Accessibility Resource page, which organizes some of the best talks from Microsoft developers, third-part sites like Can I Play That? and all sorts of tools and tips.

In case you haven’t figured this out yet, Microsoft is selling secrets about accessible game design… for free. So I guess they are just giving them away with the hope that you’ll consider using them to make sure we all keep on playing to win.