Why The Xbox Series X's New Controller Still Uses AA Batteries

The new Xbox Series X controller, like its predecessors, will use AA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery that is found in PlayStation’s DualShock controllers.

Xbox partner director Jason Ronald told Eurogamer that the Xbox audience is split nearly evenly when it comes their preference between AA batteries versus a built-in rechargeable battery. Sticking with AA batteries for Xbox Series X is an effort to please both camps, as people can still buy a rechargeable battery pack for the controller, Microsoft said.

“What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarizing and there is a strong camp that really want AAs,” Ronald said. “So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.”

The team at Xbox also spoke about some of the small changes they made to the new Xbox Series X controller. Senior designer Ryan Whitaker said the existing Xbox One controller is already designed to be suitable for the 5th to 95th percentile of hand sizes, and the new design improves that range on the lower end. The new design is aiming to support the 3rd to the 95th percentile, and these two percentile points actually represents “hundreds of millions of people,” Whitaker said.

“And so just by slightly shrinking some areas of the controller, we found that we can actually reach a lot more people and at the same time make it more comfortable for everyone,” he said.

Microsoft didn’t change the controller design radically for the Xbox Series X because people generally like it and are used to it. “They’ve got a lot of muscle memory in there,” Whitaker said.

The corners on the bumpers have been rounded to “increase accessibility,” while the bumpers and triggers both now have a matte finish instead of gloss. This was a practical change as well, as the new matt finish should help people maintain their grip when they get sweaty, Whitaker said.

The full report is incredibly in-depth and fascinating, covering more about the design of the Xbox Series X controller and the console itself.

The Xbox Series X, which launches this holiday, comes with a new controller. However, the console also supports existing Xbox One controllers and games through backwards compatibility.

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