Microsoft’s long-term plan to fully establish its Xbox brand as a truly accessible platform has been ramping up recently, from its reveal of Project xCloud to the announcement of the Xbox Game Pass being launched on the Windows PC. Following these major developments, the Washington-based company has opened up research into one of the biggest obstacles of mobile gaming: the controller.
The main barrier of entry to mobile gaming, aside from the general lack of traditional hardcore titles, has always been the mediocre controls. Touch-based controls as the main input method simply aren’t accurate or comfortable enough. According to research documents highlighted by Windows Central, Microsoft is attempting to ameliorate this issue by coming up with its own physical controllers for mobile devices.
The company suggests that the presence of physical controllers is a workaround for the touchscreen problem, citing the successes of the PSP, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Switch as proof of the concept. Microsoft also points to the Switch’s impressive sales number as a “ testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls.” While third-party accessories for physical mobile controls have long been on the market, Microsoft echoes the sentiments of most gamers in labeling them as largely unsatisfactory.
In the post by Windows Central, the documents show foam prototypes that Microsoft 3D printed back in 2014, as well as evidence pointing to renewed efforts on this front, no doubt due to their recent goal of achieving a true “Xbox Anywhere” platform. There are a variety of different conceptual models on the research document, with some that look notably like the Joycon attachment models of the Nintendo Switch.
While these physical products may be a while away, it’s reassuring that Microsoft is backing up its claims for such an accessible platform with visions of ergonomic controls to go along with it. The Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers have long been heralded as the best of their kind in their respective generation of consoles, so the eventual product should adhere to Microsoft’s historically adept controller design.