Something you probably didn’t know: There are a group of gamers that Microsoft internally labels as “Golden Hands”. These are what folks like Xbox’s general manager for accessories Zulfi Alam describe as hardcore gamers who spend countless hours with the same controller session after session. They become so comfortable with it, in fact, that they understand it better than the ones who designed it.
That’s why the studio responsible for the Xbox 360 controller’s transformation into the newly redesigned Xbox One controller was initially met with hesitation.
“When we started this program, I went and said, ‘Hey, we need to think about redesigning the Xbox 360 controller,'” Alam recently told VentureBeat in an exclusive report that dives into the controller’s development. “The reaction was vociferously negative. ‘Are you guys crazy? This is the best-in-class controller. People love this.'”
“We were told, ‘Fine, go ahead and invest in this space, but make sure you review and counter-review everything. Make sure you build prototypes up front. Make sure you get them tested with golden hands,'” said Alam. “That was the bar. The bar was extraordinarily high.”
So, what about these so-called “Golden Hands?” While it would make sense to invest in a more casual and mainstream-friendly input device, that’s what the Kinect is for, says Microsoft. With the Xbox One controller, Microsoft is going after the most hardcore of gamers, even those involved in the eSports scene, VentureBeat reports.
“People invested a lot of time in learning this,” said Microsoft senior industrial designer Quintin Morris. “The muscle memory of being able to hit these buttons really quickly gets imprinted on you, so you can do it without thinking. The people who had invested that time would lose the benefit of all their experience [if we changed too much].”
With Xbox putting their foot in the door to the growing eSports industry by sponsoring events like the Call of Duty: Championship earlier this year and the recent Battlefield 4 Showdown Live tournament, it’s not a complete surprise that the company intends to invest more into the design of a controller that has been a mainstay at these sort of events.
We’ll see, and feel, Microsoft’s work in action when the Xbox One launches this Friday, November 22.
To learn more about the Xbox One controller and how it literally ‘shaped’ up, check out VentureBeat’s continuing coverage.