Xbox One controller: $100 million to develop, almost had smell-o-vision and pico-projectors

There’s no doubt that Sony’s and Microsoft’s new consoles are impressive, powerful machines. And there’s even less doubt that they were incredibly expensive to develop and build. But just how expensive may shock a few people.

According to a report, Microsoft has spent over $100 million in an effort to redesign its highly acclaimed Xbox controller. After initial reluctance to tinker with an already successful product, Redmond engineers tried to rethink the controller and add some future-facing technology to the mix.

Some of the more daring, and hardly believable prototypes included pico-projectors that displayed similar graphics to Illumiroom, and some even included a cartridge that would release smells in certain situations.

Eventually all of these advanced “features” were dropped due to concerns over battery life and little appeal from Microsoft’s core audience, and we ended up with the current Xbox One controller, which is a refinement on the previous 360 model.

We’re happy with how things turned out, but take a minute and imagine how different things would be had some of those radically altered controllers made it to the market.

Source: Venturebeat | Image via Microsoft

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Wow that is just ridiculous.
Quick calculation tells me that means that if everyone that worked on it had a 50,000$ salary (not bad) that means TWO THOUSAND people could have worked on this controller for a year.

If they actually HAD developed something new, then OK, but i bet they just tossed around useless ideas for a couple years and then scrapped it. What a huge waste of money. I bet they wrote it off on their taxes as R&D investments too >.>

Lol, I don't think I could've gotten an Xbox One if the controller was liable to shoot smells out at me... Not to mention the general smell of death would get old real quick

spenser.d said,
Lol, I don't think I could've gotten an Xbox One if the controller was liable to shoot smells out at me... Not to mention the general smell of death would get old real quick

Lol

I remember a project like this for the PC back in the late 90s. With as example game, Dungeon Keeper Would be fun if MS finally put this thing into action.

Shame they spent all this money going full circle back to essentially what they already had. I mean, I guess it's good to do in assuring oneself that you've made all the improvements you could, but $100 million is a lot of money...

dead.cell said,
Shame they spent all this money going full circle back to essentially what they already had. I mean, I guess it's good to do in assuring oneself that you've made all the improvements you could, but $100 million is a lot of money...

Not much in the grand scheme of R&D spending large corps do. It does look like the same, which is fine, but they did make a number of small changes and the new triggers, when used right in games, make a difference. People who used it in Forza 5 for example said that it actually helps since you get a better feel for the car from the feedback the triggers give you.

dead.cell said,
Shame they spent all this money going full circle back to essentially what they already had. I mean, I guess it's good to do in assuring oneself that you've made all the improvements you could, but $100 million is a lot of money...

This number is a bit misleading, as there would have been a lot of R&D ancillary projects that would have contributed ideas and be added to this figure.

So if Microsoft has had a Pico project that has been ongoing for five years at two million a year, that is 10 million added to this number, even if the Pico project is ongoing for other additional projects.

dead.cell said,
Shame they spent all this money going full circle back to essentially what they already had. I mean, I guess it's good to do in assuring oneself that you've made all the improvements you could, but $100 million is a lot of money...

I'm trying to figure out why nobody's blasting Microsoft for "wasting" all that money. I mean, it could've gone to some poor person or to a disaster site, or, or, or... Yet people bitch when someone makes an awesome video of a 50 caliber bullet going through a console that costs only $400. Go figure.

Fezmid said,

I'm trying to figure out why nobody's blasting Microsoft for "wasting" all that money. I mean, it could've gone to some poor person or to a disaster site, or, or, or... Yet people bitch when someone makes an awesome video of a 50 caliber bullet going through a console that costs only $400. Go figure.

You must not know how much money Microsoft actually donates.... hmm go figure.

Blackhearted said,
It costs $100 million to add more of the worst feature ever added to game controllers(vibration)?

Yeah, I never get it. The vibration of controllers are literally useless and makes no sense to me.

Crimson Rain said,

Yeah, I never get it. The vibration of controllers are literally useless and makes no sense to me.

If people believe this, they have never used a controller and game that did vibration well or have been tainted by a poor implementation.

In just FPS games, it adds immersion, especially if you have ever used weapons in the real world. With the XB360 feeling the recoil of the weapon in your hand adds immersion. With the XB1, the new vibration/resistance features let you actually feel the trigger of a weapon. It also offers greater precision as you can feel the pull and grip the trigger like a real weapon.

In other games, unless you have a good surround system, getting attacked from behind or something happening to your character that doesn't appear on the screen, vibration is an additional sensory method to let users feel their surroundings.

What is weird is that I know a couple of friends that decided they no longer thought vibration had any importance. However, it wasn't the actual technology they decided they didn't like, it was to protect the horrible implementation and problems they were having with their PS3. Rather than admit Sony screwed up, they would rather say they didn't like vibration anyway and turned it off.

To discount a technology because your 'ideology' failed to implement it well is disingenuous.

Blackhearted said,
It costs $100 million to add more of the worst feature ever added to game controllers(vibration)?

You got a problem with the Rumble Pak?

Mobius Enigma said,

If people believe this, they have never used a controller and game that did vibration well or have been tainted by a poor implementation.

In just FPS games, it adds immersion, especially if you have ever used weapons in the real world. With the XB360 feeling the recoil of the weapon in your hand adds immersion. With the XB1, the new vibration/resistance features let you actually feel the trigger of a weapon. It also offers greater precision as you can feel the pull and grip the trigger like a real weapon.

In other games, unless you have a good surround system, getting attacked from behind or something happening to your character that doesn't appear on the screen, vibration is an additional sensory method to let users feel their surroundings.

What is weird is that I know a couple of friends that decided they no longer thought vibration had any importance. However, it wasn't the actual technology they decided they didn't like, it was to protect the horrible implementation and problems they were having with their PS3. Rather than admit Sony screwed up, they would rather say they didn't like vibration anyway and turned it off.

To discount a technology because your 'ideology' failed to implement it well is disingenuous.


The only problem is it is just a "notification" not immersion in most of the cases.

The whole controller vibrating like crazy because something blew up nearby or I get shot in the back or some zombie got my leg make no sense to me.

XBO's vibration on trigger? That is actually cool and makes some sense it if ONLY vibrates during shooting. But I'm sure soon it will vibrate when the game wants you to press the trigger instead of vibrating when you press it.

Seriously, unless your controller can throw your hands and your body backwards when you shoot your weapon in-game, part of your argument makes no sense.

In fact I can easily argue that vibrations are counter to an immersive experience because they're providing a feeling that distracts from what I'm seeing and hearing and it has nothing to do with what's actually happening in-game.

Vlad Dudau said,
Seriously, unless your controller can throw your hands and your body backwards when you shoot your weapon in-game, part of your argument makes no sense.

In fact I can easily argue that vibrations are counter to an immersive experience because they're providing a feeling that distracts from what I'm seeing and hearing and it has nothing to do with what's actually happening in-game.


Exactly.

These days controller vibrates like crazy (no subtle vibrations) for every random thing that is happening. It is very helpful if I'm playing games while sleepy lol.

Mobius Enigma said,


Great story until you compared it to PS3...

360 has exact same vibration mechanics, a little motor in both ends, the palm area's.
Sony didn't screw up, its been pretty much the same for years. The only thing Sony screwed up was releasing the first SIXAXIS controllers with NO vibrations, which I personally enjoyed. Rather a week per charge then every 5 or so hours.

And the 360 triggers are more like buttons, and if for the XBO they gave it more feedback, giving you the sense you're actually pulling a trigger rather then pressing a deep button...

Maybe you should play on a PS3 for once without being a MS evangelist.

Blackhearted said,
It costs $100 million to add more of the worst feature ever added to game controllers(vibration)?

You are either TROLL or have no idea of gaming, trigger vibration is the best feature I have heard recently to be added to games. its best for first person shooter games. even third person

tytytucke said,
At least it didn't turn out like the Wii U controllers. ew.

The wii u gamepad isn't really that bad. It's more comfortable than the large size may make you think, and the arrangement of both sticks up top is very easy to adjust to.

trojan_market said,

You are either TROLL or have no idea of gaming, trigger vibration is the best feature I have heard recently to be added to games. its best for first person shooter games. even third person

I've been gaming for a little over 20 years. I was gaming when vibration was first brought to gaming. It wasn't good then, and it's still not good now. And adding more of it isn't going to magically make it better. If anything it'll just make it even more annoying and uncomfortable than it already is.

Blackhearted said,

I've been gaming for a little over 20 years. I was gaming when vibration was first brought to gaming. It wasn't good then, and it's still not good now. And adding more of it isn't going to magically make it better. If anything it'll just make it even more annoying and uncomfortable than it already is.


I don't know what do you mean by annoying, but that 20 years of gaming might explain why! Early joysticks and gamepad's vibration was annoying because of the vibrator type, delay of vibration and generally developer's limitation to implement the vibration at the right time and in a right way but when you trigger a gun and feel vibration at your finger tips instantly, it is really something different than what you have experienced 20 years ago. plus you can always disable viration in any games option menu. so anything else to moan about?

Shadowzz said,

Great story until you compared it to PS3...

360 has exact same vibration mechanics, a little motor in both ends, the palm area's.
Sony didn't screw up, its been pretty much the same for years. The only thing Sony screwed up was releasing the first SIXAXIS controllers with NO vibrations, which I personally enjoyed. Rather a week per charge then every 5 or so hours.

And the 360 triggers are more like buttons, and if for the XBO they gave it more feedback, giving you the sense you're actually pulling a trigger rather then pressing a deep button...

Maybe you should play on a PS3 for once without being a MS evangelist.

It WAS NOT about the mechanism... Wow, missing the point.

There was a period when the PS3 was having issues with vibration settings, Bing/Google it. PS3 fans were just completely turning off vibration and proclaiming they never liked vibration anyway.

Blackhearted said,

The wii u gamepad isn't really that bad. It's more comfortable than the large size may make you think, and the arrangement of both sticks up top is very easy to adjust to.

Oh I agree with you on that part. I believe it is comfortable. I was just saying the idea of the wii U controllers and the way they look and function are atroushoius and terrible for console gaming.

Crimson Rain said,
.... I'm sure soon it will vibrate when the game wants you to press the trigger instead of vibrating when you press it.

I would actually prefer this to the on-screen simon says style of navigating through interactive cut-scenes.

deadonthefloor said,

I would actually prefer this to the on-screen simon says style of navigating through interactive cut-scenes.

That would be so much "immersive"...gun trigger vibrating before even shooting.

Games these days are ****. They are filled with aim-assist (better name for autoaim so console kiddies do not get butthurt), extreme amount of on screen hints so idiots can play the games without using their brains. And now you want pre-vibration on trigger? Ridiculous.

Mobius Enigma said,

It WAS NOT about the mechanism... Wow, missing the point.

There was a period when the PS3 was having issues with vibration settings, Bing/Google it. PS3 fans were just completely turning off vibration and proclaiming they never liked vibration anyway.


Okay so what is different from the 360 and PS3 vibrations? Nothing. Not implementation, not mechanism.....
But way to beat around the bush.

Tell me, whats better from a 360 controller vs a PS3 when it comes to vibration and triggers?
Cause the 360 controllers the 'trigger' is way to loose, no sense of pushback when you pull it what so ever, the PS3 on gives much more push back and better increment to it when pushed.

Now MS seems to come with similar for the XBO controller and you act like they're first and unique...
The PS2 controller has more capabilities then a 360 one (if not counting your precious triggers)
So I for one don't have much trust in MS with their controllers, look at the first controller they made.... only for 400+ pound fat americans with hands the size of a keyboard.

Shadowzz said,

Cause the 360 controllers the 'trigger' is way to loose, no sense of pushback when you pull it what so ever, the PS3 on gives much more push back and better increment to it when pushed.

Now MS seems to come with similar for the XBO controller and you act like they're first and unique...
The PS2 controller has more capabilities then a 360 one (if not counting your precious triggers)
So I for one don't have much trust in MS with their controllers, look at the first controller they made.... only for 400+ pound fat americans with hands the size of a keyboard.

Your 360 controller must be broken because my triggers feel good and have the right amount of "pushback" as you call it. As for the PS2 controller, it was ok but I personally prefer the 360 layout. Ergonomics are way ahead of PS2 as they should be considering it's a generation up.

I do agree that the original Xbox controller was designed for gorillas.

$100m to redesign a controller and they came up with basically what they had in the first place. Money well spent.


That said the 360 design its based on is a winner though.

XBOX 360 controller although was great, had many problems which the fixed or enhanced:
1. battery hump which is removed
2. clicking trigger button would have caused numbness in your finger after a while which is not the case anymore.
3. the curve and finish are more comfortable. had a chance to get my hand on it and I am telling you its much more comfortable to hold.
4. many enhancements including trigger vibrations, concave sticks and ....

again, they didn't want to get far from 360 controller because it was a great controller already

It would be nice if it had a standard earphone/mic adapter. I understand they want to allow 7.1 audio through it, but creating some adapter and shipping it would probably be an extra $2. Or just have the port on the controller in addition to the other one. It's a great feature for the ps4 to be able to use earphones I already own and like to use, and great that a standard mic will work as well.