2018 Accessibility in Review – An Ode to Ubisoft

2018 was the year of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, accessibility menus becoming a frequent game feature, and apparently, the year subtitles still weren’t an industry standard.

While Activision clearly still has a very long way to go in catching up with their peers in providing the most basic accessibility when they released the Spyro Trilogy without adding subtitles (and then proceeded to screw up further by commenting that there was no industry standard for game subtitles, therefore they weren’t obligated to provide them) many other studios left us hopeful for accessibility in 2019.

We asked our community about what their most accessible game or game moment was in 2018 and the response was a resounding Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

This came as no surprise, as in our experience, Ubisoft has long been dedicated to improving game accessibility. It was Ubisoft, in fact, that was the first studio to ever reach out to us concerning a review over on oneoddgamergirl.net back in 2015 and things have only improved from there.

So instead of an accessible year in review, we want to instead take a quick look at what Ubisoft does right in their approach to accessibility (from our very limited understanding the inner workings of the studio):

First and foremost, their dedication to accessibility is apparent through social media and interactions on Twitter alone. When looking at our followers for the OneOddGamerGirl account, the largest grouping of followers are from Ubisoft. We see employees frequently going above and beyond their job description through interactions on social media in trying to help players solve accessibility problems, and while the issues may not always be solved immediately, it’s knowing that at least they care that really leaves a lasting impact. Seeing how eager they are to learn about improving accessibility and taking to heart feedback from disabled players is heartening.

Ubisoft has also gotten into the habit of releasing accessibility specifications for upcoming games before the game is released. Players not being left to wonder if they’ll be able to play a game, or to what extent they’ll be able to enjoy it until well after the game has been released and they’ve watched someone stream it matters. Not having to take the gamble on buying a game and hoping it’s playable matters.

Once a game has been released, it’s always been our experience that the developers remain active on social media with their players, particularly concerning accessibility, and when it’s possible, concerns are addressed and often remedied in future patches (such as button remapping being added to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey shortly after its release).

In doing our Deaf game reviews, far too often we’ve had basic concerns go ignored in some of the biggest games. Not only does this turn people off from that particular game, but from the studio as a whole. That’s not the approach the people at Ubisoft take and it shows in their games.

When looking at the Assassin’s Creed series alone, watching the progression of accessibility can easily leave fans of the series excited for the future of the series. From the first AC game that didn’t even have subtitles, to the latest release, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, having customizable subtitles (among many other accessibility settings) one can’t help but be excited to see how much more accessible the next release will be.

So to close out 2018, we’d like to express our appreciation for Ubisoft and its employees for their dedication to making accessible games.

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Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

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