Microsoft introduces new accessibility testing service for PC and Xbox games

Microsoft seems to have chosen the accessibility-first approach because it also released the first edition of its ‘Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAG) in 2019, effectively setting up a standard for developers “to generate ideas and as a guiding checklist for validating the accessibility of a game.”

The Microsoft Game Accessibility Testing Service, as it’s called, is live now and anyone releasing a game on Windows or an Xbox platform can take advantage of it.

“Games are tested against the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines by a team of subject matter experts and gamers with disabilities. Our goal is to provide accurate and timely feedback, turned around within seven business days,” said Brannon Zahand, senior gaming accessibility program manager at the company.

Developers can now send Microsoft their Xbox or PC title and have it analysed and validated against the recommendations provided in the XAGs, Microsoft said in a blog post.

“Where issues are found, they are noted with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help the developer understand what aspect of a given experience may be challenging for certain gamers with disabilities,” it explained.

The reports will also include additional information such as links to gaming accessibility and inclusive design documentation, non-profits and industry-recognised subject matter experts, platform-specific technical documentation, and more, it said.