Blizzard is looking to expand their accessibility for disabled players with the launch of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by including support for the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The game is currently in closed alpha testing and is expected to launch sometime this year, although no specific date has been set.
Nikki Crenshaw, Blizzard’s UX researcher, tweeted to Jez Corden of Windows Central that, “We always want to make WoW more widely accessible, if possible, so in Shadowlands, we’re attempting to add some support for keybinds, camera, and turning a character on controllers such as the Xbox Adaptive Controller,” citing one of their community managers.
Up until now, players have been using third party add-ons like ConsolePort, but native support for gamepads will go a long way towards solving the accessibility problem – especially since the game has never made the jump to console, like so many other MMOs. The open source Xbox Adaptive Controller, released in 2018, is highly adaptable, as evidenced by a tweet from disabled gamer EyeGazeGirl, who used it to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
This is a great step in the right direction for World of Warcraft. With numerous menus to power through and complex hotkey combinations to master, MMOs are a very difficult genre for people with hand injuries or physical disabilities like Parkinson’s or Cerebral Palsy. It’s an admirable (and necessary) effort on Blizzard’s part, and we hope that other developers follow suit.
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