Today at CES 2023, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Project Leonardo for PlayStation 5, a customizable accessibility controller kit to make it easier for more people to play PS5 games. In essence, this is Sony’s way of opening more games up to disabled players, with a goal of allowing them to play “more easily, more comfortably, and for longer periods.” Sony collaborated with AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, Stack Up, and other accessibility experts and game developers to create Project Leonardo, and the kit will be compatible with various other third-party accessibility accessories for PS5. In fact, one player can use upward of two Leonardos and a DualSense controller in tandem simultaneously to play a game. A Leonardo also contains four 3.5mm AUX ports.
A single kit comes with a multitude of analog stick caps and buttons of different shapes and sizes that you can swap out for different layouts. As for how that correlates with software customization, Sony offered the following:
- Button mapping
- The controller’s buttons can be programmed to any supported function and multiple buttons can be mapped to the same function. Conversely, players can map two functions (like “R2” + “L2”) onto the same button.
- Control profiles
- Players can store their programmed button settings as control profiles and easily switch between them by pressing the profile button.
- Up to three control profiles can be stored and accessed by the player from their PS5 console at any time.
SIE designer So Morimoto further offered a statement about the ideas that guided the development of Leonardo:
Project Leonardo is part of the PS5 product family and is based on the same design concept. We were inspired by the idea of all players enjoying the world of PlayStation together. Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use. We finally settled on a ‘split controller’ design that allows near free-form left/right thumbstick repositionability, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping.
Because players can customize Project Leonardo according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations. The controller can also flexibly accept combinations of accessibility accessories to create a unique aesthetic. I am excited that the design will be completed through collaboration with players rather than presenting them with a single form factor.
The Project Leonardo accessibility controller kit is still in development for PS5, so it has no release date or pricing yet. The developers welcome feedback though. In the interim, PSVR 2 arrives this February with a bunch of so-so games.