With Pride Month already underway, Microsoft's Team Xbox has reiterated its commitment to supporting LGBTQIA+ communities around the world.
As well as donating US$170,000 (NZ$260,000) to LGBTQIA+ nonprofits - on top of the US$8 million it's donated in the last year - the gaming giant is also releasing limited edition Pride-themed gear and a free game featuring a LQBTQIA+ storyline.
"With more than half of video game players agreeing that 'my gaming identity is a better reflection of myself than my real-world identity', video games are an important outlet that gives players the chance to be who they want to be," said Kate Rayner, vice president and and member of Team Xbox LGBTQIA+.
"We continue to work on creating safe spaces in gaming where all LGBTQIA+ people are welcome and belong, where everyone is invited to play as their authentic self and enjoy a community that welcomes self-expression."
Rayner said Pride Month was a chance to be "truly intersectional" and to celebrate the array of people and identities that make up the vibrant gaming community.
"It is more important than ever to recognize that systems of inequity based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class, and other forms of discrimination intersect and ultimately affect us all," she said.
Unfortunately one of the biggest ways to show allyship with the community isn't available to those in Australia or New Zealand.
The customisable Pride controller is available via Xbox Design Lab only, which currently doesn't ship Down Under.
Team Xbox also announced that Tell Me Why will be free to download and play for the entire month of June on Xbox and on Steam.
The studio behind the game, DONTNOD, is also donating to Transgender Law Center and Trans Lifeline, two non-profit organisations offering resources and support to trans, non-binary and genderqueer people.
Other Pride Month activities include:
- Livestream takeovers on the Xbox Twitch Channel, featuring LGBQTIA+ streamers like Nikatine, Dragtrashly, Lanieloveee, Itsmeholly, and IamBrandon.
- In-game content including a brand-new emblem and nameplate in Halo Infinite as well as rainbow liveries within the Forza franchise
- Games reflecting the experiences of and resonating with the LGBTQIA+ communities to be highlighted on the Microsoft Store and for Xbox Game Pass members
- New Pride gamerpics, profile theme, and avatar Items
While the majority of comments online are supportive of the company's efforts, there are still some who don't support the idea.
One commented "Games I will not be playing", alongside a screenshot of the curated LGBTQIA+ games on the Game Pass, while others felt the new controller design was just ugly.
Microsoft's rival Sony hasn't yet announced how or if it will be supporting Pride Month this year.
Last year, the PlayStation 5 maker curated a list on the PS Store, with over 50 video games that featured LGBTQIA+ characters, themes, and experiences.
They also launched a free Pride Day 2021 theme for all PlayStation users.
Apple recently announced it was supporting LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisations around the world with new Pride Edition watch bands and a rainbow watchface, the seventh year it's supported the community.
The Pride Edition Sport Loop was created by members and allies of the community working at Apple and used a new technique to remove some loops so the word 'pride' can be clearly seen.