With a new console comes a new game controller. However, with Microsoft’s Xbox One, the controller was slightly changed rather than being radically changed when compared to its Xbox 360 counterpart. In a new report, we learn why this came to be and how Microsoft ended up spending $100 million dollars in researching a new controller – only to end up with something similar to the Xbox 360’s controller.
“When we started this program, I went and said, ‘Hey, we need to think about redesigning the Xbox 360 controller.’ The reaction was vociferously negative. ‘Are you guys crazy? This is the best-in-class controller. People love this,'” Xbox GM for accessories, Zulfi Alam stated in an interview with VentureBeat.
“Microsoft wanted the users’ attention to be on the TV in front of them and not on the controller.”
Microsoft believed their controller was “best in class” and needed very little change. This is why the new Xbox One controller still features the familiar layout and shape along with similar buttons, triggers, and analog stick. Microsoft did glance at its competition with the PS4 and the Wii U, but ultimately the devices and services giant believed their game controller was the best.
“We absolutely look at our competition, because we respect the competition. But quite frankly, in the controller space, we are convinced that our device is the best in class. I think it’s a well-known fact. You double-check and look around you to make sure you’re not missing anything, but we weren’t encumbered by saying, ‘Hey, go copy that,'” Alam added.
When Microsoft began the idea of changing the Xbox 360 controller for the Xbox One console, the company spent $100 million in research and even came up with numerous brainstormed prototypes. Microsoft created concept controllers that featured a display, a camera, and even the ability to smell right from the controller!
“We built small slugs of different types of smells that could actually come out of a controller. Like, as you walked through a jungle, you’d smell the flora,” Alam explained.
So what happened? Why didn’t any of these features make it to the new controller? Microsoft wanted the user’s attention to be on the TV in front of them and not on the controller. By not adding these features, Microsoft preserved battery life of the controller too.
“And when Microsoft mentions displays, it doesn’t just mean an extra little screen on the joypad. It actually experimented with having a tiny projector which would beam out ambient visuals around the player. This was also nixed due to battery-life issues and Microsoft’s desire to keep gamers focused on the TV,” the report stated.
Microsoft never expected the Xbox One controller to be a slight tweak of the Xbox 360’s controller. “Either you’re going to make changes, and you’re going to believe in the changes you make, and you’re going to make sure that they’re amazing – or you’re not touching this thing,'” the company believed.
Have you had a chance to hold and play with the new controller? How do you like it?
Microsoft’s Xbox One – which comes with the new controller – launches November 22nd.