Last month, we had the chance to speak exclusively with Sam Thompson, Manager and Senior Producer at Sony Interactive Entertainment on the subject of accessibility at PlayStation. Since the release of The Last Of Us Part II last year, Sony stood out particularly in the area of accessibility with many means implemented to make their games and consoles accessible to all.
With over 60 accessibility-related options in Naughty Dog’s latest game, a PS5 interface with a wide configuration panel and a Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart Also very generous in terms of options, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s objective is quite clear: to establish complete equality in the accessibility and inclusiveness of its products and services.
Lemon Squeezer: PlayStation has long kept a low profile when it comes to accessibility features. A delay well caught up in recent months: The Last Of Us Part II is one of the games that offers the most accessibility features…
Sam thompson : I would say that here at Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), we have been anything but discreet in our quest for accessibility. If we consider all aspects of our platform, whether it is games like The Last of Us Part II With over 60 accessibility-related options or out-of-the-box accessibility options for the PlayStation 5, we’re certainly not being quiet about our passion for creating accessible and inclusive gaming experiences.
If you look back to 2015 and our PlayStation 4 console firmware update 2.5, this really was the turning point that solidified the console-level accessibility movement and brought a number of great features to the table. ‘key accessibility in a dedicated menu for the first time. Functions such as personalized button assignment, zooming on displayed images, inverted colors and text-to-speech, to name a few.
A turning point that solidified the console-level accessibility movement and brought a number of key accessibility features into a dedicated menu for the first time.
In addition to console accessibility, our game studios release innovative and inclusive gaming experiences that continue to redefine accessibility in games. From Returnal’s assisted control system to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which provides dynamic game speed control, and even The Last of Us Part II, which allows the visually impaired to play. Our studios are passionate about inclusion in video games, and while I am only citing a few here, we are constantly striving to ensure that everyone can enjoy our titles.
Our studios are passionate about inclusion in video games
Lemon Squeezer: Naughty Dog said they’ve been working on accessibility features since development began on The Last Of Us Part II, in 2017. At Insomniac Games, they started in 2018, right after the release of Spider-Man. Are you going to add accessibility features to other types of games (like open world games)?
ST : Accessibility is not defined by, or limited to, specific game genres. At SIE, there are many factors that go into making each development partner identify their vision for accessibility and the features that best suit their game.
SIE provides tools, knowledge, experience and resources, but it’s up to the content creators to shape the consumer experience. For example, what started out as experimentation and design exploration for Naughty Dog resulted in the studio’s first official release of dedicated accessibility features in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
Likewise, Insomniac Games released a first set of accessibility options in Marvel’s Spider-Man with a day one patch. This was the catalyst that really helped Insomniac Games define how they wanted to represent inclusion in games, and they used that momentum as a stepping stone to continue to develop these features and ultimately incorporate them into Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
This is an ongoing effort that is not limited to our development partners. Our system hardware and software teams are also continually refining existing accessibility support, strategies and technology, while simultaneously working to develop exciting new accessibility features.
Lemon Squeezer: The work done by Naughty Dog (on The Last of Us Part II) and Insomniac Games (on Ratchet & Clank) is enormous. Will this know-how be shared with other PlayStation studios in the future? Are they totally independent on this point?
ST : Absolutely, I work with many teams at PlayStation Studios to directly share technology and best practices with the goal of not only exposing our development partners to specific solutions based on the technology they are working on, but also to provide them with some best practices and to help align development support on the console side.
By sharing technology and ideas across multiple touchpoints, we give each studio a wide range of resources, expertise and experiences. Providing the right tools to help our development partners achieve their goals is a top priority, especially when it comes to accessibility.
By sharing technology and ideas across multiple touchpoints, we give each studio a wide range of resources, expertise and experiences.
So it’s been more than five years that PlayStation has been working on accessibility. It was through an update on PS4 that the process began, before being declined in PlayStation games. Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment strives to make most of their games accessible with plenty of options to allow as many gamers as possible to experience the PlayStation experiences.
PlayStation Studios are passionate about inclusion in video games and are working together to share technologies and ideas to move forward together in inclusion of PlayStation 5 games.
Of course, and you can imagine, we couldn’t help but wonder if the goal now will be to make all PlayStation games accessible to everyone. We think of a few titles like Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 or God of War Ragnarök which are coming soon. Unfortunately, Sony Interactive Entertainment did not wish to answer this question for the moment.
Likewise, after the PS5 interface, we wanted to know if any adapted controller projects were in the plans for the next few months or years to come. Again, Sony Interactive Entertainment did not wish to comment for the moment. For our part, we will not fail to monitor the news of PlayStation around accessibility.