clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Microsoft tested Xbox One controllers with built-in screens and the ability to emit smells

New, 31 comments
xbox one controller
xbox one controller

Microsoft's Xbox team provided a seven-minute tour of the new Xbox One controller on Monday, but the end result could have been a whole lot different. While it looks like an ordinary controller now, Microsoft toyed with the concept of including a built-in screen, speakers, and even the ability to emit smells. In an interview with Kotaku, Microsoft's head of Xbox accessories, Zulfi Alam, reveals that the company once created smell-emitting prototype Xbox controllers. The concepts let players smell foliage while walking in a virtual forest, or burning rubber during racing games. In reality, the prototypes left lingering smells in rooms. "We went all out," explains Alam, but they didn't work out in practice due to the overly immersive smells.

The Xbox team also experimented with a screen on the controller and speakers. "We did put screens on our controllers," reveals Alam, but battery drain for a high-resolution display and a player focus on the big screen made the team scrap the idea. Embedding speakers in the controllers was also ruled out as "distracting," as the team didn't like the sound mix it provided from the idea of hearing cartridges on a controller during gun battles and the rest of the game on traditional speakers. "The best speakers in the house are the ones associated with the TV and you essentially drown it all away, so it's not a useful investment," explains Alam.

PC compatibility for Xbox One controller in 2014

Although Microsoft clearly experimented with a range of ideas for the Xbox One controller, the final model is mostly the same as the Xbox 360. It's a little smaller, includes a built- in battery compartment, and has redesigned thumb sticks, but the biggest change is four vibrating motors: two in the grips and one in each trigger. If you're interested in using the new Xbox One controller on the PC, then Microsoft has some good and bad news. The good news is that you'll be able to just plug in a Micro USB cable to get your wireless Xbox One controller working with titles ported to PC. The bad news is that you'll have to wait until sometime in 2014 before Microsoft rolls out PC-optimized software. "There is also some work that we need to do to make sure that existing PC games that support the Xbox 360 controller will work with the Xbox One controller," said a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to VentureBeat.