Microsoft’s new Xbox controller is trash, in a good way.
Launching on April 18 in the lead-up to Earth Day, the Xbox Wireless Controller - Remix Special Edition takes an environmentally conscious approach to gaming peripherals that’s long overdue.
One-third of each pad is made from “regrind and reclaimed materials” including unused controller parts Microsoft presumably had just lying around — as well as old CDs. The controller features a striking earth-tone design, mixing greens and browns with a bright green D-pad “inspired by lichen found in the Pacific Northwest Forest.”
In line with this ethos, the controller comes pre-packaged with the Xbox Rechargeable Battery Pack but not at a discounted rate — the pad will cost $85, the combined cost of a regular controller plus the $25 battery pack; that's the real kicker here.
As explained in our Xbox Series X review, one of the most irritating parts of the system is how the controllers require alkaline batteries rather than rechargeable battery packs. While these can be bought separately, it's frustrating, and environmentally unfriendly, that they aren't included by default; the PS5 DualSense controller is rechargeable after all.
So the Xbox Wireless Controller - Remix Special Edition corrects what we feel was a misstep, in addition to adding in green credentials to Xbox gaming.
Furthermore, although functionally this gamepad will be just like any other, when it comes to the design Microsoft has included a little bit of magic.
Because of the way it's made of recycled components, each unit will be a true one-off and look slightly different. Pre-orders are available now.
Analysis: About time and still not enough
This launch is an extension of Microsoft’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The company has promised to go carbon negative by 2030 and to undo all of its previous environmental damage by 2050. Xbox’s introduction of a “low power mode” was also a welcome step in the right direction.
This environmentally aware stance is one that the gaming industry needs to take as standard. We may no longer have hundreds of unnecessary plastic peripherals like the days of the Nintendo Wii but with every new generation of consoles, so many products go to waste. Games themselves have embraced digital marketplaces but physical copies in plastic boxes (and the shrink wrap especially) are an environmental disaster.
Some developers have taken measures to address this. The creators of the Football Manager series, Sports Interactive, use 100% recyclable cardboard packaging and even removed the disc from the physical edition of the game (players receive a download code instead). Untitled Goose Game also had a ‘Lovely edition’ that was region-free, 100% recyclable, and made with non-toxic inks.
While many games have players save the world in their narratives, the games industry will need to step up to avoid being part of the problem.