Sony has an upcoming firmware update in the works for the PlayStation 4 that could make gaming more accessible for players with disabilities.
The new firmware patch, designated 2.50 or "Yukimura," will add a bevy of new options available upfront that ought to benefit gamers with visual, aural and other impairments. For disabled gamers, that means no more squinting, memorizing menus or fumbling for caption settings.
The new accessibility menu includes options for zooming, text-to-speech, color inversion, enhancing text size, contrast adjustment, closed captions, bold text, button mapping and an option to quickly access the new accessibility menu from the PlayStation 4’s quick menu page (that opens when you press and hold the PS button on the DualShock 4).
The new options were leaked by Twitter user Ahsan Rasheed, or @IsAParrot, in a photo of a beta version of the new firmware patch.
Last August, Rasheed accurately predicted the existence of Capcom’s HD remaster of the Resident Evil remake for Nintendo GameCube before it was announced for Steam on PC, current and last-gen consoles. However, he missed the mark on another occasion when he falsely predicted behind-closed-doors demos of Uncharted 4 at E3 2014. His latest leak, complete with a thankfully non-blurry photo, is a sure bet.
The new firmware update would make the PlayStation 4 the first console to feature accessibility options for disabled gamers. Thus far, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U lack options like Sony's new menu. Hopefully these companies will follow in Sony’s footsteps and provide similar updates for their own respective systems.
However, the Xbox One does allow for the use of third-party controllers that could make gameplay easier for disabled gamers, whereas Sony’s PlayStation 4 does not. And though button reassignment, possible for years in the PC gaming space, should give impaired players an edge, certain games that require multiple, simultaneous button presses will likely continue to remain unviable.
There are other, unofficial routes a disabled gamer can take. Modder Ben Heck designed a single-handed Xbox One controller, and recently unveiled a one-handed DualShock 4 controller with all of its left buttons reassembled to the right side for players who can't use two hands. Heck designed a number of interesting inventions in the past, including a laptop version of the Xbox 360 and a portable Nintendo 64. He charges $125 an hour for custom mod jobs. You can visit his site here.
Sony's Yukimura update will also increase the streaming frame rate from 30 fps to 60 fps for both the Remote and Share Play features available on PlayStation 4, and it will add a new suspend/resume feature that will allow players to pause and restart games with the power button. The update will also let users capture shareable screenshots the moment they win a trophy in-game, and a Facebook friend search will be made available.