Microsoft Wanted Xbox One To Disappear Into The Living Room
Now there’s a headline that needs some explanation. I love giving myself extra work. Before it’s first wave release we heard a lot about how many designs there were for the Xbox One and its controller but now we’ve got even more about all the designs to tell you. Things like the console tiself going through 75 concept designs, the Kinect sensor 100 designs itself and the controller an obscene 200 designs before each arrived at their final image.
In a Microsoft-penned article, Xbox One designer Carl Ledbetter’s two-year design process has been outlined. The then-senior industrial design manager was tasked with designing the next iteration of Kinect and Xbox in 2010. It was a daunting task, he recalled, “There was this conundrum in that we had to meet and satisfy desires of core gamers and Xbox fans, and at same time we wanted Xbox to reach out and mean something to new people. From a design perspective, how do we make that happen? That was a big challenge.”
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Between 2010 and 2012 Ledbetter and his team sketched and 3D-printed concept after concept. He added, “We were extremely thorough. We were trying to push boundaries, to do something new and inventive, but there was so much at stake that we had to be really careful as well. The reason why there was so much at stake is that people really, really care about Xbox.”
“We wanted to take every component of what people love about Xbox and amplify it,” he added, “but also make it disappear into the living room – to stay in the background, robust and reliable.”
He explained that his team pained over every contour and edge, as well as the Xbox One start-up sound. The controller proved particularly tricky however, Ledbetter stated, “There was never a direct ask for us to make it better. People were a little apprehensive, like, ‘We have a great controller. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’” Regardless, the new pad features over 40 improvements.
“We had more than 1,000 pairs of hands testing controllers throughout the course of design evaluations,” he recalled, “to make sure the triggers felt right, the overall form felt right and that people could use the new controller in a way that was as good as or better than the old. We crafted every last detail.”
It’s mind boggling to think that just so much effort and time went into making the Xbox One and its controller not amazing or bite the back of your hand pretty but rather just right. Good looking enough to not be hideous and reserved enough to blend right into your living room. Basically a ninja. That said, the new controller is quite a lovely little thing to look at.
What do you think of the Xbox One’s controller and console designs?