Microsoft experimented with built-in screen for Xbox One controller

By Steve Watts, Aug 12, 2013 12:30pm PDT

While Xbox One's new controller may not look too different from previous generations, that doesn't mean Microsoft didn't experiment with some out-there options. Accessories manager Zulfi Alam discussed rejected prototypes, including controllers with built-in screens and speakers.

"Yes there was a temptation [for extra features], and during the process there were a number of prototypes with displays on them, with speakers on them," Alam told CVG. "The first thing about a display on a controller is that it needs to be super hi-res, which chews the battery life much more aggressively, which will irritate gamers. The second thing is that your HDTV will be the better display, and your eyes having to move between screens to get all the information is not a compelling gameplay scenario. It makes for worse gameplay."

It seems like a none-too-subtle jab at Nintendo, but it don't those concerns also apply to Microsoft's aggressive push via SmartGlass? Alam claimed that feature doesn't fall into that trap, since it's merely supplemental information. "When I'm playing Call of Duty I don't want the second screen to be compulsory," he said. "So that's why having a second screen sounds interesting, but is actually detrimental to core gameplay."

Meanwhile, some ideas were simply unnecessary. He says that the new Kinect's ability to measure things like heart rate made a biometric controller, like the one Sony considered for PlayStation 4, redundant. "Adding biometric sensors would drain battery life, and we've already got it via Kinect, so why do it?"

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