Project Leonardo, PS5’s latest accessibility controller kit, has been announced at Sony’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 presentation. The company shared at the event that it was working on a new controller, designed to help players with disabilities play “easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods.” At the presentation, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan promised an out-of-the-box experience, providing a robust kit of customisable parts and a range of software options on the PS5. It is being developed with contributions from accessibility experts and organisations such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up. Currently, there is no release window or pricing details for PS5’s codename Project Leonardo.
As per PlayStation’s official blog post, Project Leonardo is built to address common challenges faced by players with “limited motor control,” which includes difficulties in holding a controller for long periods, finger positioning, and being unable to accurately press small-sized buttons. This new kit puts all those buttons onto two circular pads which lie flat — one representing each half of a standard PS5 DualSense controller, with an expanded area of pressure points. Sony describes the controller kit as a “canvas for gamers” since it’s fully customisable to personal preferences, with the package including a variety of analogue stick caps (one with grippy texture as well) and buttons of different shapes and sizes. Furthermore, one could also adjust the distance of the stick from the gamepad.
Similar to the PS5’s upcoming DualSense Edge controllers, Project Leonardo comes with a button mapping feature, including the ability to map multiple buttons to the same function. “Conversely, players can map two functions (like ‘R2′ + ‘L2′) onto the same button,” it adds. Players can store their programmed button settings as profiles — up to three can be saved — for easy selection when switching between game types. For instance, a first-person shooter might require a lower camera sensitivity for accuracy, unlike a third-person action game. So now, you can simply press the profile button and swap on the go instead of heading into settings.
Project Leonardo can be used in pairs (as stated before), standalone, or connected to a PS5 DualSense controller to expand your canvas and fit particular gaming needs. Its four 3.5mm AUX ports help expand the functionality, allowing players to integrate external switches or third-party analogue sticks — all of which can be dynamically connected/ disconnected and button mapped. “Because players can customise Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations,” So Morimoto, Designer, Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in the blog post.
Sony’s first-party games already dominate the video game accessibility space, by offering a robust suite of options to help those suffering from motor and visual challenges. Both The Last of Us Part II and God of War Ragnarök were awarded in the ‘Innovation in Accessibility’ category at The Game Awards 2020 and 2022, respectively.
Project Leonardo is currently in development, with no word on a launch window or pricing.
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