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Xbox Adaptive Controller accessible packaging unveil

In May, Microsoft announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller; a first-of-its-kind controller for gamers with limited mobility; and they appreciate the overwhelmingly positive fan feedback received to date. On this journey of inclusive design at Microsoft; they are looking at extending this methodology and its principles; enabling and drawing on the full range of human diversity; to the complete consumer experience, including where that very journey starts – with product packaging.

Mircosoft packaging is a series of moments that create a unique customer experience.  These moments can manifest themselves in many ways.  Physical touchpoints, visual or material cues and structural elements are designed to lead the customer through a logical and seamless unboxing.  With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, they knew they had to make the packaging accessible for gamers with limited mobility.  That required them to re-think some things about how they package our products, including what type of moments would be most meaningful. It was critically important that they incorporate accessibility into the packaging design and unboxing experience. The out-of-box experience is the first thing customers encounter when they purchase their products and it’s important that they get that right.

With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft aimed to do something new and different in the packaging space and push the boundaries beyond what has been done before at Microsoft. They had to ask themselves, “What does this packaging need to do?” That’s where they began re-approaching their assumptions on what accessible packaging needed to be. There’s lots that can be done in the ‘accessibility’ packaging space, but for this job, they were focused on making the packaging more accessible in the area of mobility, specifically.

This challenged everything they knew at Microsoft about packaging requirements, and how they needed to gauge success. In fact, beta testers were a significant part of the early review process and much of the final design elements can be contributed to their feedback. It was important for them to understand what was useful on a package, and what should be avoided. Insights gleaned from beta testers and UX respondents was invaluable during their creative explorations. 

For example, the team developed a ‘no teeth’ principle, reflecting the common behaviour practiced by individuals with limited mobility when opening packages. Often when engaging with packages not designed for maximum accessibility, customers resort to improvised means of accessing the product –including using their teeth.  With the Xbox Adaptive Controller packaging, they wanted to ensure that no such extreme measures would be required!  Microsoft also heard how painful twist ties, zip cords and paper that can cause cuts can be—things commonly overlooked by many, but which become so much more difficult for people with limited mobility to navigate. 

With tester feedback, They built many different iterations for the packaging – ensuring every detail was right. They wanted to ensure the packaging fit within the Xbox packaging ecosystem – a true member of the controller family – and didn’t want to create separation or ‘otherness’ from the Xbox brand. Microsoft wanted gamers to say, “Wow, this is truly an Xbox product.” 

Xbox Adaptive Controller

Here’s a few other, key accessible features of the Xbox Adaptive Controller packaging:

  • Both the single-shipper and retail package have been designed to “unfold” to reveal what’s inside with minimal friction. The shipper reveals the retail package, and the retail package reveals the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
  •  Discreet air cells integrated into the shipper packaging for protection for the product; while maintaining a small footprint and clean design.
  • Every major step of the unboxing incorporates loops, a feature that we heard resounding positive feedback on from beta testers. Loops are a highly proven lever to assist in accessibility.  The leveraging of loops begins with the tear-strip on the single shipper, kicking off the out-of-box experience seamlessly.  On the retail box; a specially designed ‘break-the-seal’ label (which keeps the box lid secured to the base) employs two loops; for multi-directional removal.   A soft, grey loop initiates the opening experience; then there are integrated loops on both the paper Quick Start Guide (QSG) and cable folio.  There are five loops on the XAC packaging from beginning to end.
  •  An open cavity area under the controller, enabling multiple ways to remove the controller from the box; including pulling via the loop or sliding it out directly.
  • The box has a low centre of gravity; grounding the unboxing experience and creating a sense of stability for the end-user. Additionally, the hinged lid provides a low-effort, single-pivot access into the package.

 It was through continued engagement with the disability community and research groups; that they grew our understanding of what accessible packaging could include. Every time they approach packaging in a new way; they strive to learn as much as they can and leverage those insights across all our work. The Xbox Adaptive Controller required Microsoft to think in depth about accessibility in packaging; and they believe it is a powerful milestone on their accessibility journey. 

The Xbox Adaptive Controller – complete with accessible packaging – is available for gamers in September of this year, and available for pre-order now for $129.99 AUD from Microsoft Store. Learn more about the Xbox Adaptive Controller here.