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Microsoft’s new Xbox controller borrows great ideas from Stadia, Steam and Sony


New Xbox for 2024! New hybrid Xbox for 2028! But can we just appreciate Microsoft’s Sebile controller leak for a second?

The $70 pad could arrive in 2024 and is packed with the best parts of Sony’s DualSense, Valve’s Steam controller, Google Stadia, and hopefully 8BitDo.

“Sebile – The new Xbox controller.”
Image: FTC vs. Microsoft

Obviously, it uses the Sony DualSense’s “precision haptic feedback.”

Well, I hope! This is what excites me the most, because it seriously adds a new dimension to some Sony games, which just aren’t the same once you take them away.

Check out our DualSense X-ray below, compared to that of an Xbox pad, to see the difference between their haptic engines:

Note that some controllers shipped with “precision haptics” or “HD” which didn’t make an impact, even though they technically featured linear actuators instead of old-fashioned eccentric rotating weights as do still today Xbox game controllers. The Steam controller had rather questionable haptics, and that of the Nintendo Switch is not DualSense level…

So what is the good functionality of the Steam Controller?

Would you believe that Microsoft’s “haptics acts as a speaker” has already been done? This always makes me LOL:

The Steam controller could truly do this. Hell, your iPhone’s Taptic Engine can technically do it too.

But I also really hope that Microsoft will put a gyroscope in this thing, not just an accelerometer, so we can have the same gyro aiming revolution that I experience on my Steam Deck and with Zelda on Switch. It is so good for aiming bows.

What could Google’s Stadia controller have been used for?

This is why Sebile is so important. Microsoft positioned it internally as its first “universal wireless controller”, theoretically capable of controlling the Xbox on console, mobile, PC and cloud.

The controller can do this because it connects directly to the cloud, the documents show, in addition to Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless. Google Stadia pioneered going direct to the cloud by connecting the controller directly to your home’s Wi-Fi, and it allowed me to easily switch between games on my PC, TV, and phone. Here’s something I wrote in 2019 about Stadia and Destiny 2:

I started a session on the TV with the Stadia controller while we were blasting away tiny minions, switched to a desktop with a mouse and keyboard when I needed better aim for a boss fight, and I seamlessly resumed the game on a smartphone before heading downstairs. the room to have a snack whilst playing with a colleague over 5,000 miles away in London – without any major issues.

Amazon’s Luna controller also had a direct connection to the cloud, but… no one really talks about Luna anymore.

Okay, I’m reading between the lines here too much and I’m prepared to be disappointed, but Sebile has two additional ideas that catch my attention:

  • “New modular joysticks” with “improved longevity”
  • “Seamless pairing and switching” across multiple paired devices

First, many of 8BitDo’s controllers feature a slide switch on the back that lets you switch between four Bluetooth-paired devices: one click to go from Nintendo Switch to iPhone or PC. Looks like Microsoft could do this with an app.

Second, while 8BitDo’s ultimate Bluetooth controller, unfortunately doesn’t delivered with this four-position switch, it do come with Gulikit Hall effect sensor joysticks that should hopefully eliminate stick drift – at a time when Sony and Microsoft are using the exact same drift-prone joysticks.

(In an earlier version of this story, I also credited 8BitDo with making a rechargeable battery that could fit in the AA pocket, but Xbox has been selling one as an option for a while. Maybe it will just provided now.)

Detecting the presence of the elevator when waking up could be a big problem for battery life! Ancient Polygon editor (and current editor) Chris Grant told me that the Xbox One controllers seemed to last forever if you had the Microsoft Kinect set up – since the camera took on that presence-sensing role.

How likely is this to happen?

Microsoft’s leaked documents show that Sebile is not a fantasy project: it was already funded in May 2022. The leaked slideshow suggests that is the case. THE new Xbox controller, which is expected to arrive in May 2024 for $70 and bundled with every new Xbox sold starting next fall.

This isn’t the only new controller in discussion, with another version called “Igraine”, a new Elite controller called “Actium” and a new deluxe controller called “Zarasai”.

It’s interesting to see what Xbox thought it could and couldn’t afford.
Image: Court documents

But the latter two had yet to secure internal funding, and internal Microsoft documents also warned that the “full Sebile product vision” was “not currently approved,” describing scenarios in which a stripped-down controller would ship in place.

Will Microsoft deliver its complete vision for 2030?
Image: Court documents

By the way, Sebile and Igraine supposedly come with an accessory of some sort called “Bonnie” or “Bonnie Pro”. Is this the name of the rechargeable battery? A carrying case? A stick or an interchangeable mattress topper? Your guess is as good as ours.