Seems like Microsoft slowly crept up on Nintendo’s touchscreen controller idea for the Xbox One, but decided to ditch the idea early-on in development due to battery life and inconvenience.
According to a Kotaku interview with Microsoft’s head of Xbox accessories Zulfi Alam, Alam discussed the many changes the Xbox One controller has underwent while being developed:
“We did put screens on our controllers,” he said. “These are the two things that came out… the gaming screen is essentially your television screen. If you have a small alternate screen which can’t by definition be high-rez or super bright because of the battery requirements—it would drain the battery much faster than you wanted to—there would have to be compromises. If you had this screen that is on your controller and this big TV in front of you, your eyes are going down to your controller and back up and down and back up and during a shooter or other core gameplay scenario that is just not something you want to be doing. So it just didn’t have the user impact that we desired.”
The disavowal of having a second screen while gaming might sound weird if you recall that Microsoft is pushing its own second-screen experience called SmartGlass. Launch games like Dead Rising 3 do in fact let a player or second player use a tablet or phone screen for added interactions and info. “It’s a different thing when you have something like SmartGlass for additional information,” Alam said. “But If you’re trying to read, for example, your kill ratio on your controller during active gameplay that’s not fun. You’ll lose the game, essentially. If you focus on the controller and not on the game, you will eventually be dead. That was one of the things we looked at and said, ‘Hey is this is probably not helpful.'”
Microsoft also tested out speakers on the controller, which again is similar to what Nintendo did with the WiiRemote and GamePad, but obviously they have a different mindset than Nintendo. Even crazier, they tested out controllers that would actually emit different smells depending on what’s happening in the game.
“Alam’s team made a smell-emitting prototype Xbox controller. “So essentially you can have a couple of predefined cartridges like gunpowder, burning rubber, smoke, flowers,” he said. “For example, a core scenario could be, ‘Hey, I’m walking through a forest. As I’m walking through a forest, I’ll smell foliage.’ We can have that scent predefined.”feel that the main reason though Microsoft didn’t run with this touchscreen idea.”
Sounds like Microsoft had a ton of unique ideas spinning around in their head. I can definitely see how the company ended up spending 100 million dollars on the controller. I feel that the main reason Microsoft chose not to go down this route is because Wii U GamePad had no notable effect on the console’s performance, but that’s just speculation on my part.
What do you readers think about all these prototypes? Is it all money wasted, or was this process a good trail-and-error for Microsoft to craft their ideal controller? Let us know what you think down below.by