During the PlayStation segment of Sony’s CES press conference, we got a detailed look at one of the platform holder’s next major initiatives. Continuing their commitment to accessibility wherever possible, Sony unveiled a new customizable controller for those who may not be able to use a standard DualSense for any reason. Labeled Project Leonardo, the new controller, still in development, would enable more players to engage with games in ways that would previously have been difficult or impossible.
Project Leonardo uses a modular construction system that allows players to customize what buttons go where, how much space their hands need, and other ways to “find a configuration that works for their strength, range of motion, and particular physical needs.” Whether that means differently shaped or spaced analog sticks or its flat design so it can sit comfortably on a table or a wheelchair tray, the Project Leonardo controller allows it.
The customization goes into the software level as well, from specific button mapping, to multiple controller layout profiles, to the ability to push two buttons at once with the press of just one. Players who need more than one controller to fully enjoy a game can use up to two Project Leonardo controllers and a third DualSense controller. The three devices work together seamlessly, and the new controller comes with multiple expandable 3.5mm AUX ports if the player has additional accessibility needs accommodated by a third-party system.
PlayStation didn’t develop Project Leonardo in a vacuum, either. They worked with accessibility experts and organizations like AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, and Stack Up to ensure the product met the many accessibility needs that hamper or prevent players from enjoying the hobby.
This isn’t PlayStation’s first foray into accessibility, with major titles like God of War Ragnarok and The Last of Us Part I offering deep suites of options for players who may need them. It is, however, a significant step forward for the company, bringing accessibility into the hardware space to compete with Xbox’s own Adaptive Controller and provide a first-party choice designed with the PS5 in mind.
While we didn’t see any release date for Project Leonardo, many of the experts and consultants who worked with PlayStation on the controller seem incredibly optimistic about what it can offer gamers who need those additional accessibility options to enjoy all games, regardless of their situation.