The most innovative gaming tech of 2023

The video game hardware scene is so busy these days that it’s hard to keep track. For example, during November, we saw the launch of Legion Go, Steam Deck OLED, PlayStation Portal, Atari 2600+, and a new PlayStation 5 model. It’s important to keep an eye on this, as hardware manufacturers find themselves in a race to innovate. A lot of these fast and furious changes are coming from the portable market, as Steam Deck competitors and cloud devices stack up.

This gives us plenty to choose from when choosing the hottest innovative gaming technology of 2023. While last year Steam Deck was the only obvious option, this time there was no shortage of directions we could go. From groundbreaking controllers to creative handhelds, these were the pieces of hardware that propelled the gaming industry forward in 2023.

Want to see the rest? Check out our full list of the hottest innovative tech products of 2023!

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Winner: PlayStation Access Controller

The Sony PlayStation Access Controller was the hottest innovative gaming technology of 2023.
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While this year was filled with flashy handhelds that make gaming more flexible than ever, PlayStation introduced the most important piece of gaming technology of 2023 in the PlayStation Access Controller. The unique gamepad is designed with accessibility in mind, offering players with specific needs multiple ways to customize their PlayStation experience. We’ve seen similar devices from companies like Xbox in the past, but the Access Controller takes that idea even further.

The device is a round gamepad filled with swappable parts. Players can map various buttons on its side panel and even mark with erasable markers what each pad does. It comes with a control stick that can rotate 360 ​​degrees around the gamepad and can be locked with the press of a button. It can also be connected to another access controller or connected to other accessibility devices to give players additional flexibility. On top of that, Custom Profiles lets players store up to 30 configurations for easy access. This is a fully loaded controller that aims to provide as much customization as one could hope for.

Although we haven’t worked on it ourselves yet, the Access Controller takes our top innovation honors this year just on theory. It’s always fun to play with new tools that let us play in new ways, but they mean nothing if they’re locking players out. Creative accessibility tools like Access Controller ensure more players will be able to experience the game marvel’s spider man 2 And final fantasy xvi, Sony deserves credit for not only creating a gamepad that allows this, but also for putting in the extra effort to create an innovative design that considers multiple needs.

Runner-up: Lenovo Legion Go

A Legion Go sitting on a table with its controllers separated.
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Lenovo’s Legion Go may not be the most practical portable PC on the market (the Steam Deck OLED and the ROG Alley have both made a splash this year), but it’s undoubtedly the most creative. The main selling point is that the device has a phenomenal 1600p display with a 144Hz refresh rate. This is the best screen for a device of this type on the market today, even if it comes at the expense of performance. However, that’s not what makes Legion Go special.

The most creative feature comes in the form of its Joy-Con-like controllers, which can be detached from the system. By dropping one into a magnetic stand and flipping it to FPS mode, players can essentially turn a controller into a mouse. The controller also includes a scroll wheel and additional back buttons to support that setup. It’s a first draft that doesn’t always work perfectly in all games, but it’s a simple idea that helps Legion Go better bridge the gap between PC and handheld consoles. This makes it more visionary than other portable PCs available in the market. I hope others will try to copy its features going forward.

Honorable Mention: Atari 2600+

An Atari 2600+ is sitting on a table.
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While there are plenty of future-facing devices to shout about, from the Razer Edge to the Meta Quest 3, the retro gaming scene deserves it when innovation is respected. Game preservation is an important task and machines like Analog Pockets are worth noting which make it easier to play older games. Along those lines, the Atari 2600+ earns its own honorable mention at this year’s awards, even if it’s just a recreation of the old console.

What makes it special? Official retro devices like the Sega Genesis Mini 2 only go so far when remaking old hardware. They scale down the design to replicate the look of the console, but it’s more of a cute gimmick than anything else. On the other hand, the Atari 2600+ is a true, working replica of its 1977 counterpart right down to its controllers. Where it really goes the extra mile is in the fact that it can actually play the original 2600 cartridges like the older consoles. This detail allows Atari to more faithfully preserve what it felt like to run the system in the 1970s. We rarely talk about preserving physical experiences when preserving games, but Atari makes a strong case for it in one of the year’s finest retro systems.

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