In 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) didnâ€™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 havenâ€™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.