On the surface, the Xbox One controller isn’t too different from its Xbox 360 predecessor: four face buttons, two triggers, a pair of bumpers, a couple of analog sticks, a d-pad, the Xbox Guide button and start and back button facsimiles. So designing it was probably a fairly simple task for Microsoft, right? Not exactly.
Carl Ledbetter is the man who led the team of 35 responsible for designing the Xbox One and its controller over a three-year period. In an interview with MCV, Ledbetter revealed that the console’s gamepad went through 200 prototypes that were tested by 1,100 people over a period of 500 hours.
“Nobody says anything about the little things on the hardware,” Ledbetter said. “If somebody is using the controller and after 30 minutes is saying ‘my hands are starting to hurt,’ then that’s a fail. But if after 30 minutes all they’re thinking about is the game, then we’re doing okay.”
Though most gamers and reporters have named rival Sony’s DualShock 4 as the new gold standard for gamepads, Microsoft’s Xbox One controller has been warmly received as well. Small but important changes from the 360 pad have resulted in an already comfortable design feeling even more satisfying in gamers’ hands. Complaints about aches and pains after 30 minutes of playing time have been virtually non-existent, making the design a success by Ledbetter’s standards.
That hasn’t always been the case with Xbox controllers. In fact, Xbox gamepads got off to an inauspicious start back in 2000.
“An example of something we got wrong was the first Xbox controller,” Ledbetter recalls. “It worked, but it wasn’t the right size for people. For the Xbox One, there has been a bunch of things that, I don’t know if they were wrong, but they weren’t appropriate or they weren’t the ideal solution. Usually, we do enough testing that it wouldn’t go out the door if it wasn’t right.”