This Xbox Accessibility Controller Made of ‘Power Cubes’ Will Cost You a Pretty Penny

This Xbox Accessibility Controller Made of ‘Power Cubes’ Will Cost You a Pretty Penny

Want a controller that looks like a box? How about one shaped like a worm? The Proteus controller, which just went up for preorder Wednesday, is made up of interconnected dice that can do both with one of the most interesting and modular accessibility controllers we’ve seen so far. And yet, as adaptable as it is, it’s exclusively restricted to Xbox and PC. Worse, a single set costs as much as four or five regular Xbox Series X controllers combined, even when you’re getting the controller set at a discount.

The $US300 MSRP (yes, you read that right) Proteus controller is like a set of four dice, where each side allows you to attach a different kind of button, joystick, d-pad, or switch. The kit itself comes with two “power cubes,” which charge the controller and act as the Bluetooth pairing, plus a pair of analog cubes. The kit comes with more spacers and half cubes that let you caterpillar the controller in various directions. With all that, you get a selection of “peripherals” that act as different button layouts, like an XYAB or trigger plugs. It’s currently $US255 when you preorder it, but it’s a hard bargain for a device that may not have everything you need in the base kit.

There should be enough socket covers to fill in all the caps left over by missing buttons, and it also comes with two side panels to transform it into a more traditional controller design. Irish developer ByoWave claims on its site you could technically connect up to 30 modules together, though the $US300 kit only comes with four. You can also have more than two analog sticks connected at one time, but you can’t reprogram the controller yourself.

Image: ByoWave

Judging only by the pictures, it seems like an incredibly freeform design that could offer a slew of different setups for users who need it. Other modular designs, like the $US90 PlayStation Access Controller, offer various sets of button keycaps and switches, but they’re constrained to the base, circular pattern. Unfortunately for PS5 users, it won’t be available at launch. ByoWave said “It is very important to us to be officially licensed with console companies to ensure a seamless user experience and so that we can ensure the longevity of the controller.” Still, it does hope to partner with other consoles in the future.

But again, the least accessible part of the product is its price. At the very least, ByoWave offers free .STL files for users to print their own specific types of analog sticks that don’t come in the box. ByoWave claimed on its site that it plans to offer individual parts down the road, but currently, no pricing details are available. The controller is supposed to ship sometime in the fall of this year.

Xbox Expands Support for 3rd Party Setups Through the Adaptive Controller

Image: Xbox

The Xbox Series X has its own first-party accessibility controller in the flat, $US99 Adaptive Controller. Though if accessibility-minded gamers wanted to use some third-party controller, they’ve been a lot more limited as of late. Last year, Xbox cracked down on “unauthorized” controllers and accessories, essentially adding more DRM to the console in what seemed an attempt to limit the reach of cheaters, such as devices that spoof controller inputs to play with a mouse and keyboard. This had the adverse effect of limiting some bespoke accessibility setups. In response, Microsoft pointed to the existing (though sparse) licensed accessibility options.

Microsoft touched on this controversy in its latest Xbox Wire blog for Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The good news is the Adaptive Controller is going to be far more adaptable to other setups. Microsoft said it will provide a firmware update that will add support for up to 12 additional buttons, a second stick, and a hat switch to the USB port. Xbox claims this update should “better support full functionality of some accessibility peripherals.” This is in addition to the connections available by the 19 3.5 mm jack connections.

The company said that if any manufacturers or players want Xbox to consider adding to the slate of supported devices, they should contact Xbox through the Xbox support page through either online chat or call. However, maybe you could go with the old reliable blasting the company on Twitter.

The problem remains that those looking for an accessible experience on Xbox, let alone every other console, need to pay two, three, or even five times as much as the average gamer to find an enjoyable experience. It’s clear Microsoft wants Xbox to work first and foremost with its own licensed hardware. Still, all that does is make gamers with specific needs inevitably spend more money just for a basic, playable experience.

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