If you were wondering why Microsoft hasn’t joined the likes of literally everyone else in the video game market by making its controllers rechargeable instead of using a pair of AA batteries in 2021, it turns out there was a deal with Duracell dating back years that has ensured Xbox controllers stayed firmly set in 2005.
News of this came not from Microsoft (I mean, why would they want to draw attention this, as it’s been a point of contention with the Xbox brand since the Xbox One’s launch in 2013), but Duracell itself, which confirmed in an interview with Stealth Optional that the Xbox brand and Duracell have a “constant agreement” that has kept Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S controllers from sporting rechargeable batteries.
“There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox… It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place,” Luke Anderson, Duracell UK’s marketing manager, 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].”
In a statement issued to MCV a Microsoft representative said they wouldn’t discuss any such deal while not actively denying it, and gave it a little spin that tried to frame the Xbox brand’s dated use of batteries as a big win for consumer choice because you can buy any AA batteries you want and they’ll still work:
“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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While the battery life of your controller might vary depending on what brand of power source you choose, the average person will have to switch those out multiple times a year, and the overall cost of batteries can really add up. If you felt so inclined, you could buy rechargeable AA batteries for your Xbox controllers, but that’s still extra money for a feature freely given in all of its competitors’ controllers. Since there’s apparently a deal with Duracell to put this cost on consumers, that repeated cost is the bottom line here. So try and invest in a rechargeable battery pack early so you’re not buying new batteries over the course of a console generation.
In a recent survey, Microsoft asked Xbox Series X/S owners if they were interested in seeing features like the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on Xbox controllers in the future. Doesn’t mean they actually will be added in the future, but the company is at least considering it.