Microsoft testing enhanced Xbox 360 controller AND motion-sensing

15 August 2006
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Xbox 360 Wireless ControllerIn a presentation at the Gamefest event in Seattle, USA, Microsoft’s product unit manager for hardware Robert S. Walker made some comments suggesting that the company may release a new optional “advanced” version of the Xbox 360 controller at some point in the future. The presentation was largely focused on Xbox 360 peripherals coming in the near future, such as the Xbox Live Vision camera and the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel, but at a certain point the topic shifted to the issue of fine control in genres such as first person shooters which are arguably less suited to traditional console controllers than to a mouse and keyboard.

After confirming that, as previously stated, the company has no plans to allow in-game mouse and keyboard support on Xbox 360, Walker noted that Microsoft is looking at ways to modify the right analog stick on the controller to make it more conducive to the precise movements used in shooters and various other genres. This controller would not replace the original controller, and would merely be an option available to players looking for a more advanced control scheme.

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  • When asked for clarification by Shacknews, Walker reiterated that Microsoft does not yet have any concrete plans for the workings of such a device, nor is there any projected release period. Rather, it is something under consideration by Microsoft’s hardware development teams as a long term possibility.

    Firingsquad asked Walker about future support for motion-sensing controllers for the Xbox 360 in the wake of all the attention that Nintendo has generated with their Wii controller and more recently with the word that Sony will have some motion-sensing features for their PS3 controller.

    Walker was open about the fact that Microsoft has done testing and prototypes with similar features for the Xbox 360. Indeed. Microsoft made a PC controller with motion sensing features in the mid-1990s and while Walker said it sold better than expected, he admitted that Microsoft could have done a better job promoting the use of the controller to game developers. Walker said that for games like racing and first person shooters, their own tests with Xbox 360 motion-sensing controller prototypes indicated that the users were at first split 50-50 on whether or not they liked the motion-sensing versus the standard analog stick movement. What’s more interesting is Walker said that people who played with the motion-sensing prototypes for an extended period of time complained of physical fatigue. He also said that playing with such controllers in first person shooter games (as UbiSoft will have for the Wii in Red Steel and their Far Cry port) didn’t give them the precise control as you’d get with a standard controller or a PC mouse and keyboard combo. However, Walker indicated that Microsoft is still considering adding some kind of motion-sensing feature to future controllers and are still experimenting with prototypes, so they haven’t totally written off those kinds of features just yet.

    Other topics in the Q&A that were answered by Walker included any support for wireless headphones (no plans) and their plans for the upcoming Microsoft Zune music-video player (Walker indicated that he had no contact with the team in charge). Quite surprising how much testing goes on there.


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    Ferry Groenendijk

    By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.

    • xbox 360 heavly relies on quite a big of 3rd person/fps shooters. Gamers have been crying out for a accurate control system for these types of games. I cannot see any other way to take these type of games to the next level on the console format. I believe it would be a very smart move to release a peripheral along side the current controller that acts pretty much like the Wiimote and Nunchuck. Before you shoot me down, try your hand at Resident Evil 4 on the Wii, then make your comments. Until you have tried this game out with that setup then your comments will just no cut it. Bill Gates and Sony need to put their egos aside and admit that Nintendo have created something that has been needed in the video gaming market for years. The upshot for both Microsoft and Sony is that Nintendo did it well, but there is MASSIVE scope for improvement. Both Sony and MS have the games down to a tee as Nintendo game are piss poor just. Any one of those two creating a better motion set up coupled with outstanding games will take the market from Nintendo easy as they just don’t have the power in that tiny white box! By the way, i have a wii (i dig it) and the only games i buy are games that benefit from the control system, all other good titles are bought on the 360. I can’t imagine playing Forza 2 or GTA4 on the Wii, go or even Guitar Hero with the awful guitar set up!!

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