Microsoft’s decision to continue designing its controllers to be compatible with regular AA batteries, even into the latest generation, has been speculated on by gamers and journalists for a while now. But it looks as though we may finally know the reasoning, though it’s not as clear cut as it may appear.
According to an interview with Stealth Optional (originally caught by VGC), Duracell’s UK marketing manager Luke Anderson said that the decision is largely due to a marketing agreement between the two companies.
“There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox…it’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place,” Anderson told Stealth Optional. “[The deal is] for OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers’ battery. So that [deal is] going to go on for a while… it’s been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while [more].”
Considering the fact that Xbox controllers are often used in Duracell’s own marketing, this doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. However, the issue of battery options in controllers is somewhat more complex than just who has a marketing agreement with who.
“Former Xbox executive Albert Penello posted a Twitter thread last year discussing his experiences with and research about different battery options in controllers. According to Penello, when he did broad industry research with gamers from across the globe, there was a distinct preference for regular AA batteries over rechargeables that are native to the device. This is because AA batteries do have the advantage of low draw, so they can sit in a controller for a long time before they run out, and there are disposable and rechargeable AA packs players can buy. Of course, having a rechargeable battery built into the controller provides a lot of convenience and is generally more cost effective, though the internal batteries can decay which may require players to drop the cash for a whole new controller. So in short, there’s not really a solution that will make everyone happy.
Xbox has yet to respond for comment, but did tell MCV/Develop in a statement via Kotaku: “We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC.”
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