The Seattle Seahawks might not be at the Super Bowl this year, but Microsoft is returning after a four-year hiatus. The software giant is focusing on its Xbox Adaptive Controller this year, and the commercial includes the many ways this unique controller is used. Designed for gamers with disabilities, the controller has two large programmable buttons and 19 jacks that can be connected to various accessories to make Xbox and PC gaming far more accessible for a number of players. Even Microsoft’s packaging for the controller is designed to be as accessible as possible.
Microsoft’s two-minute slot tells the stories of a number of young gamers with disabilities and how the Adaptive Controller levels the playing field in Xbox games. It’s part of Microsoft’s “empowering” series of ads, and it continues the same emotional message that was introduced back at the Super Bowl in 2014. It’s less about selling the Xbox Adaptive Controller to new audiences, and more of a method of tugging at the heartstrings to show that Microsoft isn’t just a giant corporation.
Microsoft will have spent millions of dollars to secure this Super Bowl ad, as NBC has previously asked for around $4.5 million per 30-second slot. CBS is airing the Super Bowl this year, and Microsoft’s ad, entitled “We All Win,” will air for 60 seconds on Sunday. It comes a day after Microsoft reported its strongest quarter of gaming revenue and some solid Xbox Live numbers. While many analysts have questioned whether Microsoft will remain involved in gaming and the Xbox, it’s products like the Xbox Adaptive Controller that show that the company is committed.
Microsoft, as a whole, has also taken a more empathetic role in technology since its first Super Bowl ad, which aired just a few days before Satya Nadella was named CEO. Nadella opened up about his own family life back in 2017, revealing his eldest son was born with severe disabilities. Microsoft has been showcasing some of the work it does toward accessibility in recent years, including an iPhone app for blind people, Office improvements for people with dyslexia, and even physical blocks to help visually impaired children learn how to code.
Update, January 31st 11:30AM ET: Article updated with confirmation from Microsoft that it will air a 60-second version of the ad on Sunday.