All eyes may be on the new consoles coming our way eventually, but I always felt that the true mark of progress could be found in the peripherals that arrive alongside new hardware. With the Xbox Series X, said input method for playing video games looks handsome. The Xbox Series X controller looks like a big beefy boy, constructed of the finest obsidian plastics and featuring delightful textures with which to wrap your digits around.
It is the future of console gaming controller technology…that still has room for AA batteries. In this day and age, nay in the last five years or so even, the idea of having to swap batteries from a controller and replace them with a fresh set of lithium iron disulfide shells is simply baffling. The DualShock controller from the PlayStation 3 era pretty much ditched batteries yonkers ago, while it took Microsoft a while to even offer a rechargeable battery pack with their Xbox One controllers.
To be fair, you can use one of those standard USB-charged battery packs in the new Xbox Series X controller, but having the option for AA batteries is still weird. What gives? Why is Microsoft still making use of such antiquated technology for a machine that has so much future-proofing power under the hood? Because you guys asked for it.
According to Xbox partner director Jason Ronald when he spoke with Eurogamer, the Xbox audience is split right down the middle between having and not having that option. “What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarizing and there is a strong camp that really want AAs,” Ronald explained.
So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.
In other Xbox controller news, Ronald revealed why the design of the controller hasn’t changed much between generations, with the plastic being slightly altered to support a wider arrange of hand sizes including those of games journalists with embarrassingly tiny appendages/American presidents. “And so just by slightly shrinking some areas of the controller, we found that we can actually reach a lot more people and at the same time make it more comfortable for everyone,” Ronald said.
“They’ve got a lot of muscle memory in there,” Microsoft senior designer Ryan Whitaker added.
Some of the ways that we’ve found that we could increase accessibility is by rounding those corners on the bumper. We’ve taken in the opening by a few millimeters and the angle of attack there has changed by a degree. There are things that we knew we didn’t want to change, that includes things like thumbstick heights, we want to make sure that people’s muscle memories still there.
The end result is a handsome controller, one whose seam lines between plastic shells will soon be caked in all manner of grime and flesh dust after I’ve had a good couple of hours of play with it in 2021. I’m filthy and I’m honest about it at least. Which reminds me, I need to clean my Xbox One X controller because the mushrooms growing out from analogue sticks is starting to gross me out.
Last Updated: March 30, 2020