Ubisoft has published an internal interview discussing the future of accessibility at the company.
The Ubisoft internal interview has senior manager of accessibility David Tisserand, talking about the efforts being made at the company to ensure accessibility is present for “every stage of the player-facing process.” This means that the studio wants to expand accessibility from not just within its games, but from all areas where a player is involved.
Tisserand talked about key moments, such as the accessibility taskforce that was set up internally in 2017, and how Ubisoft has more than 20 roles dedicated to accessibility across the company. It’s noted that work is being done on in-house engines and middleware to “better support the implementation of some accessibility considerations.” Tisserand said that “I’ll consider our task to be complete once everything we do for our players and our employees is accessible.”
He continued by saying that going forward, players can expect to find remappable controls, colorblind considerations, high-quality subtitles, and decent font sizes on almost every game the company releases. He revealed that having a minimum level of accessibility in Ubisoft games “isn’t the end goal” and that the focus is on “innovating and pushing the envelope on some selected games” to raise the bar internally and across the industry.
To achieve this, it’s detailed that Ubisoft has “recruited a team of experts in accessible game design” who collaborate with development teams early on. They are also helping to “shift away” from the traditional accessibility-by-options approach and more to the accessibility-by-design approach. While the games will continue to allow users to use customization features, the focus on designing with accessibility in mind will “reduce the need to develop options” which could lead to users getting lost in the options menu.
With Ubisoft handling a number of IPs with different gameplay types, Tisserand explained that they approach it in different ways: “It’s a mix of a blanket approach to addressing the common barriers to each game and a tailor-made approach to adapt to the specifics of each game.”
He went on to say that they may miss the mark with some titles, but that the team “see it as a progression, a momentum, not a race to deliver a single accessible game and leave all other projects without support.”
According to Tisserand, the accessibility team at Ubisoft work with developers to broaden their knowledge and help them understand barriers: “Understanding these barriers leads to understanding the impact of the mechanics we choose to put in our games, and more importantly determining how we put together an efficient and sustainable process to conceptualize, design, validate, iterate, and polish an accessible experience.”
“The Quality Control Accessibility team validates that every accessibility consideration is working as expected. The User Research Labs validate the design intentions with the target audience.” he explained when talking about providing feedback later in development when playing the first version of a title. He also detailed that the accessibility “are involved in every stage of the development process.”
The interview ends with Tisserand talking about making accessibility a part of Ubisoft’s DNA, something he and I talked about in an interview over at DualShockers. Essentially, he wants Ubisoft’s accessibility to extend beyond in-game and instead, being present during marketing, events, websites, customer support, and more. “We’re working together to design a more accessible future for all our players, and I can’t wait to see what our teams come up with next.”
This is certainly being achieved, Ubisoft Forward last year had subtitles, sign language interpretation, and audio described streams, and the company has been active with audio description for its major trailers. Additionally, the company continues to reveal accessibility features for a number of its games months ahead of launch.