The Accessibility Conundrum

It’s the beginning of 2022, the aftermath of the multiverse explosion. In fact, last year my gaming multiverse was nearly destroyed by multiple issues by a familiar entity: The PlayStation. To be clear, I am a fan of both Xbox and PlayStation but accessibility has bigger importance.

Accessibility needs to be baked into the design on multiple levels. However, without accessible hardware, are game developers wasting their revolutionary effort designing accessibility? This is the accessibility conundrum.

The following issue is echoed by many disabled gamers who require a specific controller setup to enjoy gaming.

Since the release of the PS4, I have slowly built a gaming setup around the Dualshock 4 controller and Titan 2 device. I have limited hand and finger function, so my gaming setup including the controller shape is compatible with my abilities. With this requirement I cannot use the PS5 DualSense controller, it may superficially look like the PS4 Dualshock 4 but for me, minor changes become major barriers.

Accessibility needs to be accessible. Controller backwards compatibility should be a fundamental aspect of new consoles and controllers. I’m not suggesting that the DualSense is a terrible controller or that features like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers are pointless. However, if you will deactivate these additional features (like me) then we should be allowed to use our setup with a compatible controller for OUR needs.

When I first played the PS5, my setup smoothly transitioned over so I happily finished Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and had the opportunity to praise the incredible accessibility.

Then I was blindsided by a PS5 update removing the loophole that permitted my setup to work. Ironically Deathloop was the game that highlighted this death loop.    

The PS5 requires the console and controller to authenticate that a compatible DualSense controller is in use every 10 seconds. In practice, this authentication check means that every 10 seconds the Titan 2 will stop working.

Currently, the only solution is to play using the PlayStation Share Play app however this isn’t the ideal solution if you don’t have great internet and specifically purchased a 4K screen to use with the PS5.

“Peter, You’re Struggling To Have Everything You Want While The World Tries To Make You Choose.”

Spider-Man: No Way from Home

Thankfully, the people at ConsoleTuner who created the Titan 2 are working on a workable solution. This fix will be in the form of an add-on and will be finished sometime in 2022 but will require an additional purchase.

I’m hoping that the add-on will be released in the first quarter of 2022 so that I can enjoy Horizon Forbidden West and God of War Ragnarok. I don’t currently have an Xbox Series X but have a gaming  PC so I know I can still play games like Gotham Knights, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League but I just prefer playing on the PS5 to update/track my trophies.

It’s a shame that PlayStation seems more interesting in selling a new product and controller rather than becoming more inclusive. Unfortunately, this is a common business practice in technology companies. This practice is contradictory to PlayStation’s accessibility team and game developers like Insomniac or NaughtyDog who have created revolutionary accessibility settings.

The accessibility conundrum rears its ugly face again. How necessary is accessibility if it’s gatekept by a transparent impenetrable barrier locking you out because you’re not on an arbitrary ‘list’?       

The beauty of Xbox is a sense of freedom that whatever setup you require will be perfect, it would be great if PlayStation equalled the playing field.

Last year would have been difficult if I didn’t have my GOTY Guardians of the Galaxy and the incredible Xbox Game Pass. I got the chance to revisit the Halo universe with the Master Chief Collection before the release of Halo Infinite and then immerse myself into the entire Gears of War saga.

All I want in 2022 is to enjoy playing games without any barriers so I can continue praising accessibility regardless of console.

I’m sure this year there won’t be a Multiverse of Madness but a Multiverse of Accessibility.

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