It’s no secret that Sony has been a pioneer of accessibility in games, with its first-party productions like The Last of Us: Part I and God of War Ragnarok winning awards for their commitment to ensuring they’re playable by all players. However, one piece that’s been missing has been a true revision of the DualSense controller that suits the needs of everyone. Enter the latest PlayStation pad: Project Leonardo.
This hardware kit has been developed in collaboration with numerous accessibility consultants, and promises “to help many players with disabilities play games more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods”. It’s been designed in collaboration with charities such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, and Stack Up, and is built to work in tandem with the PS5 console to open up “new ways of gaming”.
“[Project Leonardo aims to] address common challenges faced by many players with limited motor control, including difficulty holding a controller for long periods, accurately pressing small clusters of buttons or triggers, or positioning thumbs and fingers optimally on a standard controller,” Senior Vice President of Platform Experience Hideaki Nishino wrote on the PS Blog.
Rather than a rigid controller, Project Leonardo is being pitched more as a hardware kit, which can be assembled to suit specific needs and requirements. Effectively, you can mix and match parts and components to create the configuration you need, and it interfaces with the PS5 to allow complete customisation across the board, ranging from button mapping to layout profiles.
The really neat thing is that you can pair it with other peripherals as required. For example, you can use Project Leonardo on its own – or even join two together. And if a player needs additional help, you can combine it with a traditional DualSense, so a parent or carer can control a character while the Project Leonardo user pushes the buttons. It’s totally versatile by design.
The controller is currently in development, with no release date attached. Sony says it’s continuing to gather feedback to make the peripheral the best it can be. “We are grateful to everyone in the community who has advocated for greater gaming accessibility,” said Nishino. “You are the reason we do our work and your passion inspires us every day. It’s truly a privilege for us to create products that better serve your needs.”