Tweak It: Xbox 360 Controller

How large a factor do you think familiarity is? The general consensus from last week’s Tweak It which asked you what, if anything, you would change about Sony’s DualShock 3 was that it is pretty much spot on.

There is a split somewhere down the middle of the community between those who, like myself, would prefer concave sticks and triggers and those who would keep them convex. There are also a small number of you who straddle that line, preferring one but not the other.

With a design that is now about fourteen years old and that was sized for Japanese hands, which are smaller on average than Western hands, it is a little surprising that there were not more suggestions.

One thing that occurs to me is that when you have a console several years into its lifecycle with a large user base it could be the best time to experiment with controller design. Why not develop and release a range of controllers to see how the different designs go down with consumers?

You did come up with a few DS3 tweaks though:

  • Make the triggers less sensitive when watching videos so you are less likely to accidentally fast forward or rewind the action. (Would be a trivial software fix to set the threshold level in the PS3’s OS.) ~ Crawfail, hazelam, eye8have9you3
  • The early debug Sixaxis controllers, long before the return of rumble, had a red LED behind the PS button. Bring it back and have it glow while the controller is charging as the little ‘ID’ LEDs are not aways easy to see were the controller is sat charging. ~ OllyBobs
  • Make them stackable somehow so you don’t end up with an untidy pile of them. ~ MrJimmy (A somewhat off-the-wall suggestion but one that isn’t without appeal.)
  • Give the d-pad a lighter feel. ~ gazzagb (I did not think anyone would be unhappy with the d-pad!)

Is it cruel to suggest it looks like Fisher Price might have designed it?

From next month you will be able to buy a third-party PS3 controller that is almost identical to the 360’s, the Speedlink XEOX. So aside from the fact that it is only fair as we looked at the DS3 last week, this is a good time to examine the 360’s controller and find out how it could be improved.

Like the DualShock controller, which was preceded by the original PS controller and the Dual Analog, the current 360 controller is essentially the third iteration of controller design from Microsoft.

The original Xbox controller was too large for some and widely criticised and the smaller Controller S was quickly released and soon replaced the original in the Xbox retail package. The current Xbox 360 controller is clearly an evolution of the Controller S. What would I change about the Xbox 360 controller?

  • The first and most obvious one is the d-pad. It’s shockingly poor and while I suspect certain patents are responsible for its hobbled design there must be a way Microsoft can ‘fix’ it.
  • It always feels to me that you have to press the Xbox button on the controller for a fraction of a second too long. For what it’s worth, the DS3 has that timing spot on.

Now it’s your turn, what would you change about the Xbox 360 controller?

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17 Comments

  1. Well fixing the Dpad is an obvious suggestion, but I also think Microsoft should make all their controllers wireless and able to charge without an adapter that you have to buy separately. It can’t be that hard to implement.

  2. • I’d improve the bumper buttons. They lack any sort of tactility.
    • The D-Pad has been improved on hugely but only in that newer controller we saw last year (?). I thought it would make it into all subsequent controllers but obviously not.
    • I find it almost unbelievable that Microsoft didn’t go down the same route as Sony with an inbuilt rechargeable battery.

  3. I don’t like the dpad or the stick layout, or the size of the controller. If I were to offer a suggestion it would be that it should be like the DS3.. So nothing serious, the shape is just a little uncomfortable. The colour is quite nice though.

  4. The d-pad again for me, its horrid.
    The ability to use a headset without the chunky thing on the bottom of the controller.
    They are my main things but i dont have a 360 anymore so the headset thing may have already changed?

  5. the battery pack on the back of the wireless controllers

  6. yeah, I totally agree with the d-pad, that’s why I’m looking forward to then new xbox stick: http://majornelson.com/2010/08/31/new-xbox-360-wireless-controller-featuring-a-transforming-d-pad/

    • I have it since i have the Xbox (June of this year), it doesn’t changes a lot… it’s almost the same thing.

  7. The D-Pad, after anything else. I have the new controller (the one that has the D-Pad that Spins out) and it’s almost the same thing…
    Next, would be the XYAB buttons… they are too bumpy…
    I have Playstations since the PS1, so, maybe that counts, or not.

    • I forgot, someone mentioned before the batterys and i forgot that i have 2 stupid recharge kits and they don’t work… i less the controller charging for 5 hours, i try to play and in 20 min it has no battery -.-”

    • If you’re looking for a bumpy ride, you should try the old Xbox Duke controller (the first, big one). I remember it almost hurt after a while.
      But I prefer the ds3 buttons aswell.

  8. I love the shape of the 360s controller, it fits snuggly in my hands and the stick layout feels natural to me.
    I also loved the xbox s controller when it came out, and it came with the ‘box I bought and still works beautifully. I bought a 360 controller to use on my pc a few years ago, rarely use it and it’s showing more signs of age with a squeeky trigger.
    I feel the build quality is lesser than that of the ds3, the buttons and triggers seem cheaper IMO.
    The battery should be internal as it would make it better to hold and you wouldn’t have to worry about spare batteries.
    And yes, the d-pad could be better, but they need to overcome both ninty and sony’s patents, and that could be difficult.

  9. They should put back the one thing they didn’t copy from the Dreamcast… the VMU. Plus get rid of that battery pack. And while it doesn’t improve the 360 controller, allow 3rd party cordless controllers on the 360.

  10. One definite thing I’d like is the triggers moving further away from the back of the controller. It’s a lovely thing to hold but I get awful hand cramp with prolonged periods of gaming, especially driving games where the triggers are nearly always being pressed.

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