Microsoft has published details of its mooted Xbox controllers for mobile gaming, no doubt all tied into its Project xCloud game streaming service for PC and mobiles. These are prototype designs to allow console gaming on the go, all without sacrificing control methods.
A number of 3D printed designs are shown off as Microsoft looks to nail down a versatile set of gamepad controllers that could potentially be used with just about any device. There are numerous devices shown, including one that looks fairly similar to an Xbox controller, albeit with long, PlayStation-style prongs. The controller can be split in half and attached to either side of a phone screen. If you’ve got one of these snazzy new bezel-less phones though, it looks as if it’s going to cover a chunk of the screen.
Microsoft also lays out an ‘ergonomic’ design with three distinct grip types that can be used depending upon the size of the device. In the bottom example with the tablet, you can see what it would look like without any grip whatsoever. Alternatively, one of several grips can be attached.
To say this thing looks ugly would be quite the understatement. It looks like something you’d see in an airplane cockpit rather than attached to a $1000 entertainment device. These are prototypes though, and Microsoft rarely disappoints these days when it comes to aesthetics.
It’s also easy to see where Microsoft is going with this. Expanding the Xbox brand to be playable anywhere, on any device, is powerful stuff. This isn’t the most elegant solution but it’s a solution all the same. It also allows Microsoft to forgo making mobile hardware, competing directly with the Nintendo Switch without even needing to release a new console.
However, the benefit of touchscreen phones is you don’t have to put up with bulky controls like this. I can’t imagine many people willing to carry a set of these round to whip out on the tube. The Switch’s joy-cons are designed from the ground up to work with a single device, and yet even the Switch is arguably a little bulky for a portable. In truth, Microsoft probably envisions these more as in-home devices; a means to play your games without being tied to a TV or a monitor. And when it’s a toss-up between these controls or touchscreen controls, gamepad controls win all day.
Is Microsoft onto a winner with its console-gaming-on-the-go initiative? Or do these prototype controllers look too bulky for most mobile gamers? Let us know your thoughts!