Original Xbox Controller Was "Embarrassingly Enormous," Co-Creator Says [UPDATE]

Microsoft "ignored focus tests," according to Seamus Blackley.


[UPDATE 2] We spoke with Blackley today. He shared some further information and context around the original Xbox controller and why it turned out the way it did.

"On a project, even when you technically can shut something down, leadership requires you let people do things you may disagree with when you demand things by fiat elsewhere," he said.

[UPDATE] Blackley has now shared even more of his thoughts on the Xbox controller.

The original story is below.

The controller for the original Xbox was "embarrassingly enormous" and Microsoft ignored focus tests about it, according to Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley.

Blackley's comments today came in response to a person on Twitter who asked if Blackley could share any insight into the controller, known today as The Duke. Blackley, who has since left Microsoft, said he did not have the political status within Microsoft at the time to reduce the controller's size.

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"It was embarrassingly enormous; politically I had no juice to fix it," he said. "They ignored focus tests; I understand you can land a helicopter on it."

This isn't the first time Blackley has spoken about the original Xbox's controller and its size. Last summer, Blackley told IGN that it's his understanding that the manufacturing firm that Microsoft went with for the device delivered a controller that did what the company wanted, but the circuit board was the size of a "large dinner plate." Fitting it inside the controller meant that the device was going to be very, very big.

Blackley also said Microsoft conducted research--after the size was locked in--that concluded that consumers actually wanted giant controllers, which he apparently found dubious. Microsoft eventually released a smaller controller for the original Xbox.

In June this year, Blackley released images of original Xbox prototype controllers that were clearly and intentionally influenced by Sega's Dreamcast.

This story has been updated.

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