Xbox Series X controller could get a PS5-inspired redesign

Xbox Series X controller
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S come equipped with one of the best controllers Microsoft has put out, but the PS5 DualSense controller is arguably more innovative, thanks to its vibration and adaptive triggers. Now, it seems that Microsoft might do something about that.

During an interview with the Kinda Funny Gamescast, as reported by VGC, Xbox head Phil Spencer had some nice things to say about the PS5 controller. He also hinted that an updated Xbox controller could be coming down the line.

When asked about the possibility of VR coming to Xbox Series X, Spencer began talking about other accessories and where Microsoft could improve. The Xbox controller was one topic of discussion.

"There's probably some work we'll do on controller," said Spencer. "I think Sony's done a nice job with their controller. We kind of look at some of that, are there things that we should go do?"

Spencer also shed light on his thoughts regarding VR on Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, players holding out for VR support on Xbox might be better off buying a PS5 or PC. 

"We're watching what happens on PC. As it relates to VR specifically, the best experience I've seen is Quest 2," said Spencer. "And I just think its untethered, the ease of use, be it untethered in its capability, just doesn't, to me, require it being connected to an Xbox in any way. So when I look at a scenario like that, I think about xCloud, I think about the Xbox Live community, I think about other things of how we can bring content to a screen like that."

For Spencer, if Microsoft were to pursue VR game development, it would look at both its first- and third-party studios, and see if could leverage any of its existing IPs or relationships. 

As for the current Xbox Series X controller, it's not bad by any means. However, Sony stole some of Microsoft's thunder with the DualSense's improved vibration and adaptive triggers. 

The PS5 controller uses Voice Coil Actuators: fast and responsive motors with precise tuning. It allows developers to implement very fine vibrations. When playing a game like Astro's Playroom, players can "feel" the difference between walking on glass and walking on metal. 

The shoulder buttons are also attached to a motor. By sending an electrical current through the motor, developers can add tension to the triggers, giving button presses varying levels of resistance. Some games, like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, use varying levels of tension to mimic the feel of different weapons.

If Microsoft were to implement this type of tech on a future Xbox Series X controller, the Xbox fandom might laud the decision. 

Doing so might also make things easier for third-party developers. At the moment, first-party Sony games are taking full advantage of the DualSense. Third-party developers may not feel it's worth the time to fine-tune a DualSense experience when half of their players are on Xbox. 

Regardless, any future controller improvements would be a welcome addition. Maybe these features could make their way onto a potential Xbox Elite Controller Series 3.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.