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Xbox controller

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Xbox controller
Xbox "The Duke" Controller (primary controller from 2001 to 2002)
Release date
  • NA: November 15, 2001
  • JP: February 22, 2002 (Controller S)[1]
  • PAL: March 14, 2002
  • 2 × clickable analog sticks Left analog stick press Right analog stick press (8-bit precision)
  • 2× analog triggers
    (Left shoulder trigger, Right shoulder trigger)
  • 6× pressure-sensitive buttons
    (A, B, X, Y, Black, White)
  • 2 × other digital buttons
    (Back, Start)
  • Digital D-pad
ConnectivityXbox controller port
SuccessorXbox 360 controller

The Xbox controller is the primary game controller for Microsoft's Xbox home video game console and was introduced at the Game Developers Conference in 2000. The first-generation Xbox controller (nicknamed "The Duke") was the first controller bundled with Xbox systems for all territories except Japan. A smaller and redesigned variant, called "Controller S", was sold and bundled with the console in Japan. It was later released in other territories and by the end of 2003 had replaced the first-generation controller worldwide. The larger original controller remained available as an optional accessory.


The Xbox controller featured breakaway dongles to avoid damage to the console if the cord was tripped over.

The Xbox controller features dual vibration motors and a layout similar to the contemporary GameCube controller: two analog triggers, two analog sticks (both are also digitally clickable buttons), a digital directional pad, a Back button, a Start button, two accessory slots and six 8-bit analog action buttons (A/Green, B/Red, X/Blue, Y/Yellow, and Black and White buttons).[2] Project leads J Allard and Cam Ferrari aimed for a controller with every feature the team liked from preceding ones: slots from the Dreamcast controller, two sticks from the PlayStation's original DualShock and six frontal buttons from the revised Sega Genesis controller.[3]

When the physical design of the controller began, circuit boards for the controller had already been manufactured. Microsoft had asked their supplier, Mitsumi Electric, for a similar folded and stacked circuit board design used in Sony's DualShock 2 controller, but the company refused to manufacture such a design for Microsoft. This led to the controller being bulky and nearly three times the size of Sony's controller. This initial controller design was never launched in Japan, where the console instead launched with a smaller, redesigned version named "Controller S" that did use the more compact circuit board design.[1][4]

Duke and original Japanese Controller S controllers made in Malaysia featured a dark green cable. When the Controller S was released in the West, early models featured the green cable, however later Controller S models switched to a black cable and were made in China.

The Duke's digital directional pad is visually similar to the digital directional pad on Microsoft's previous game controller, the Microsoft SideWinder. However, the Controller S dropped that design and replaced it with a plus shape on a disc.


The Duke[edit]

Seamus Blackley was a video game developer for Xbox and helped design an early prototype controller. The first-generation Xbox controller, originally nicknamed the "Fatty"[5] and later "The Duke",[6][7] was originally the controller bundled with Xbox systems for all territories except Japan. According to Blackley, the Duke name came from Brett Schnepf, the project manager of hardware for Microsoft during the Xbox's development, whose son was named Duke.[8]

The controller was oversized and was not very well received. While the product was being announced some audience members threw objects at Blackley on stage.[9] The controller has been criticized for being bulky compared to other video game controllers; it was awarded "Blunder of the Year" by Game Informer in 2001,[10] a Guinness World Record for the biggest controller in Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008, and was ranked the second worst video game controller ever by IGN editor Craig Harris.[11]

Over fifteen years later Seamus Blackley contacted Phil Spencer, the head of the Xbox division, and pitched an idea to revive the old controller, following a series of joking posts through social media that showed strong consumer desire for the controller. Spencer gave Blackley the rights to the Duke controller.[12] The original design was modified with some subtle changes to the bumper design, shoulder buttons and overall layout to make it compatible with the Xbox One, as well as an LCD screen that displays the original Xbox boot sequence when turned on. The Duke was released for Xbox One and PC on April 30, 2018, through a partnership with Hyperkin.

Controller S[edit]

Xbox Controller S

The "Controller S" (codenamed "Akebono"[13]) is smaller and lighter, designed for users with smaller hands.[14][15] After the original controller had received much criticism, and initial sales of the Xbox were very low, the "Controller S" was later released in other territories by popular demand and in 2002 replaced the first-generation controller in the US Xbox's retail package,[16] and Europe in 2003,[17] with the larger original controller remaining available as an accessory.

Memory unit[edit]

An 8 MB removable solid state memory card can be plugged into the controller in a manner similar to that of the Dreamcast's Visual Memory Unit. Game saves can either be copied from the hard drive when in the Xbox dashboard's memory manager or saved during a game whenever the memory card is inserted. Most Xbox game saves can be copied to the memory unit and moved to another console but some Xbox saves are digitally signed; each console has a unique signing key, and some games (e.g. Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball) will not load saved games signed by a different Xbox, limiting the utility of the memory card. Some game saves can be tagged as uncopyable (like Burnout 3: Takedown) or simply padded to over 8 MB (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). The signing mechanism has been reverse-engineered by the Xbox hacking community, who have developed tools to modify savegames to work in a different console, though the signing key of the recipient Xbox (the "HDkey") and the ramped-up title key of the game (the "authkey") must be known.

It is also possible to save an Xbox Live account on a memory unit, to simplify its use on more than one Xbox.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Seppala, Timothy (March 23, 2018). "The story of the Duke, the Xbox pad that existed because it had to". Engadget. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "Inside Xbox Controller". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  3. ^ Wesley Yin-Poole (November 17, 2013) [14 December 2012]. "Why Xbox failed in Japan". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  4. ^ "Why Xbox Failed In Japan". YouTube. CNBC. October 8, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Tour". IGN. May 13, 2005. Retrieved July 2, 2011. the original "Fatty" Xbox controller didn't have a specific public name
  6. ^ "Xbox's original beast of a controller making a comeback?". CNET. June 15, 2005. Retrieved October 16, 2011. Anyone who purchased the original Xbox during its launch window quickly came to know its behemoth of a controller, now nicknamed "The Duke".
  7. ^ "Microsoft - Timeline Photos". Microsoft. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014. Hi, I'm Amy Stevenson, the official Microsoft archivist. Need a CD-ROM of 500 Nations? An ActiMates doll? An old Duke controller from the original Xbox? I've got 'em all, right here in these boxes. Explore the Microsoft Archives here.
  8. ^ DeMaria, R. (2018). Game of X v.1: Xbox. CRC Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-429-78983-0. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  9. ^ Owen S. Good. "The Dukes return to Xbox redeems the original designer". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Games of 2001. Game Informer (January 2002, pg. 48).
  11. ^ "Top 10 Tuesday: Worst Game Controllers". IGN. February 21, 2006. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  12. ^ Joseph Knoop, May 18, 2018. "How A Twitter Joke Brought The Xbox 'Duke' Controller Back To Life – IGN Unfiltered". IGN. Retrieved May 18, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Ninja Beach Party. Official Xbox Magazine (October 2002, issue 11, pg. 44).
  14. ^ Christopher Buecheler (June 24, 2008). "GameSpy.com - Hardware: Xbox Controller S". Archived from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  15. ^ "Xbox Retrospective: All-Time Top Xbox News". Gamer 2.0. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  16. ^ Sam Parker (October 14, 2002). "New Xbox bundle with Sega games". GameSpot. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  17. ^ Sam Parker (April 23, 2003). "Controller S becomes Euro Xbox standard". GameSpot. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014.

Further reading[edit]