The Next Xbox And Its Controller Are Currently Covered In Crazy Stripes

Controllers for the next Xbox as well as prototype versions of both Microsoft's new, powerful console and the machine's new, mandatory Kinect sensor have been in the hands of game creators since last month. But that's not much of a surprise. What is a surprise is that all of that gear is covered in criss-crossing, radiating black and white stripes. The console codenamed Durango currently looks like a zebra.

Microsoft doesn't talk publicly about its new console, which is likely to hit shelves late this year or early next. But four unrelated games industry sources have all confirmed the look of the development hardware to Kotaku.

The question isn't if the Durangos are wearing their referee shirts now. The question is why.

Two probable reasons:

Discouraging Leakers: A few weeks before Microsoft rival Sony revealed its PlayStation 4 to the world, the world got to look at the PlayStation 4's controller. That look came courtesy of photos of the controller leaked to outlets such as Kotaku. The PS4 controller is black, as were the ones whose images leaked. Black controllers are hard to tie to specific owners. If everyone—every game developer, publisher, marketer, researcher, enterprising mailman, etc.—who has a controller has a black one, then any leak of that controller is untraceable.

A lot about Durango has already leaked. Microsoft would probably like to put an end to that. So, consider something like this mock-up:

Above: a current Xbox 360 controller with white tiger stripes. This is not a leaked photo of a next-gen Xbox controller.

But if everyone who has the next Xbox's controller has one with its own special black and white stripes? And if those strips vary? Then any leak could be traced, to some extent. Only a person who doesn't mind obliterating the relationship between Microsoft and the intended recipient of the controller is going to leak a photo.

The only problem with this theory is that the stripe patterns may not differ across these devices. The only way to confirm that is to get two people to compare their controllers or to compare two controllers ourselves, something we haven't been able to do. And if those two are the same, maybe there still is another variation out there. Which potential leaker would take the chance that each controller was identical?

Baffling Observers. During World War I, the British military painted warships in zany black and white patterns similar to those on the Durango's controller, console and Kinect. Those stripes, referred to as "dazzle camouflage", were designed to disguise some of the ships' traits. The stripes made it harder to assess the ships' size and speed.

Modern auto makers use similar patterns to obscure the contours of new cars that might be spotted during a test drive but aren't officially announced yet. The patterns can make it hard to ascertain the edge of a spoiler. The patterns can also confound a camera's autofocus.

Above: January 1919: The 'Jan Beydell' in dazzle camouflage bringing Sir Douglas Haig in to port and to the reception committee awaiting him on the quayside. Picture: A. R. Coster/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Instead of discouraging leakers, Microsoft may simply have been trying to apply some dazzle camouflage of its own, but to obscure what? The console war isn't exactly World War I, and there aren't many candidates out there who'd be ready to clone Microsoft's controller, let alone the shape of its Kinect and development console. Certain curves, however, might seem proprietary enough that they'd rather the public not see them yet, not until Microsoft is ready to show its new Xbox off, finished, non-Zebra paint job and all.

Microsoft's subterfuge would seem warranted if the next Xbox was some wild new shape. Don't get too excited. There's no sign that the new console is shaped like a conch shell or that its controller resembles, say, a TV remote.

The controller, according to Kotaku sources, actually seems quite similar to the current Xbox 360 one. Same two analogue sticks in the same upper-left/lower-right position, same positioning of the d-pad and face buttons and forward and back buttons. Triggers. Bumpers. Top-center power button. It all seems to be the same, though we can't tell if any of these buttons have been improved — if, say, the d-pad responds more crisply, if the triggers pull more deeply, and so on. The new controller, as we reported more than a year ago, is apparently a little smaller than the existing 360 one. It's still the same basic shape, perhaps with refined contours. It's more or less what people are used to.

The new controller doesn't have any major new input interfaces either, from what we understand. No new buttons and certainly no added screen like the Wii U controller has nor a baked-in touchpad like the PS4's.

We're not expecting to be able to show you the new Xbox's controller any time soon. You can read specs on the machine, if you'd like. Otherwise, just sit tight. By June's big E3 show, if not sooner, we'll surely know what the next Xbox will look like. It's a safe bet that it won't be called Durango by then and won't look like a zebra if or when it comes time for you to get one.


Comments

    Nvm should've read the article first. Tired of all the teasing.

    Last edited 03/04/13 11:19 am

    Have they gotten rid of the stupid enormous battery pack on the back? I find that incredibly annoying, and uncomfortable. The wired controllers are so much more comfortable, but they're wired, so that sucks.

      I hope so, I've been using one of those Afterglow wired controllers and they're great even if wired. The wireless controllers are hard to go back to since.

        Afterglow controllers are plastic crap! Do you work for Gamestop/EBgames?

        If you don't, then you won't mind me saying that you are better off custom modding your own controller, and if not, find yourself the new model of the Official controller with the Transforming D-Pad.

          Lol, nah I don't work for them. I did have one of the chrome ones with the transforming D-Pad which yeah was the best controller I've had, well until my niece got to it anyway. Haven't gotten around to replacing it.

            Allthough, the D-Pad does need to be worn-in a bit (like all membrane based buttons & keyboards) to get the responsiveness of the classic SEGA MegaDrive 6-Button (a.k.a. "the Super Street Fighter 2 controller") and the SEGA Saturn/Dreamcast series. Which the Xbox360 controller is based on. *note; just info, nothing snide :P

    The ships 'dazzle camouflage' were not not black and white. Photographs were black and white back then. They were actually quite colourful. You could even call the colours 'dazzling'.

      I always liked this explanation...

      http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/calvin-father-on-black-and-white-pictures.gif

    It's probably some kind of advanced watermark so if images leak early they know exactly who the culprit is.

      Its unlikely as American car manufacturers have their striped car prototypes drive around Alice Springs all the time because the pattern makes it hard to make out any actual details, both by direct sight and photo.

    So in terms of controller progression... if that description is true... Sony innovated, MS procrastinated. Damn.

      I assume MS have spent their efforts on improving Kinect rather than the controller. Whether that's a good decision or not depends on your feelings about motion control, I guess.

        Absolutely, Kinect has a lot of potential, as it gets more sensitive and reaction time is cut right down it could become quite useful, as it stands right now its a novelty, however, one day it may be as useful as a controller. One day.

      Or they're planning on using 'smartglass' for that stuff.

        I used Smartglass on my ipad when I owned one (sold it, got a Transformer infinity, MUCH better), was pretty damn spiffy and if they can get Smartglass going in conjunction with games in a useful manner, I'm all for it. I'd love it. So hopefully.

      Xbox made a change mid gen to refine the pad though - specifically to improve the dpad. I still think its better from an ergonomic standpoint than the PS4 design. Obviously the PS4 pad has the new touch pad, but I'm dubious as to whether it will ever be used to good effect.

        Having used the Vita touchpad, I can honestly say that when implemented correctly, its very good. In conjunction with a normal controller, I can definitely see potential benefits.

          The Vita's touchpad is different in that it's on the back of the console, so you can reach the touchpad without having to take your thumbs off the main controls.

          My concern with the PS4 touchpad is its positioning. It just doesn't look like the kind of thing that I'd be able to reach quickly and accurately during a game, certainly not without looking down at the controller. I mean if they just sort of divide it into halves or quarters to use as a few extra pseudo-buttons that's one thing. But if a game required me to move my thumbs off the sticks and do any kind of fine control with the touchpad then move back to the sticks I don't know if I could do it.

          I'll reserve judgement until I use the PS4 controller myself, though, and see how (or if) developers use it.

          The other issue is that while the PS4 has it, it seems unlikely that the XBox will have something similar. I suspect the touchpad may end up being one of those things that doesn't get used all that heavily, except maybe in exclusive games where they don't have to worry about how they'd reproduce that functionality on the other controller, or they'll tack it on somehow in the way that the 360 versions of some multiplatform games tacked on some rudimentary Kinect support.

            The location of the pad itself is not exactly irrelevant, but more importantly is it's how its implemented that counts. Obviously the location of the pad won't allow for quick access like the Vita but for things like scrolling through text, for QTE's etc, it opens up a lot more possibilities rather than just 'PRESS BUTTON'. Yeah QTE's very much suck but at least now its DRAW THIS PATTERN rather than PRESS THIS BUTTON lol.

      Does the 360 controller really require innovation though? I mean right now it controls my games perfectly. I wouldn't want them to stick a toaster on it just for the sake of doing something new (which is sort of how I feel about the PS4 controller, but I'll hold judgement until I see it in action).

      I'd like to see them add headset mute/volume controls to the core controller (essentially putting a built in puck on the controller), and the D-Pad could use a redesign, but aside from that I'd love to see the XBOX 360 controller become the standard for gaming. GameCube style triggers and SIXAXIS wouldn't hurt either.

        I think adding an internal battery is a good start (we dont know if they have yet, so have to wait and see) you're completely right about the volume buttons, definitely. The DPad does need it, but the twist option from the ltd edition controller needs to be a standard feature, I bought one and its *insanely* good. Especially with fighting games. A sixaxis function would definitely be great. I think the triggers were fine personally, I found them quite comfortable, but maybe if they were extended a tiny bit. Or maybe I have giant gorilla hands! lol

          I hadn't seen those twist style d-pads before, they look pretty sweet.

            Yeah they really are! They raise and lower the corners so you either get a completely flat DPAD or just an old style NES pad 4 directional one. Its fantastic. Highly recommended.

      Sony have released 3 versions of the Dual Shock, the new controller is still a Dual shock but now with a touch screen, I wouldn't exactly be handing over the leaders in innovation award just yet.

      The 360 Controller has been considered one of the best for a long time now, (despite the annoying battery and crappy D-Pad) if they make some minor adjustments and fix the obvious I'd be very happy. As you say lower, they probably spent time on making a Kinect that will actually work.

    Yeah, as you said apparently the vinyl wrapping on prototype cars make it nearly impossible for even some of the better autofocus systems to work from a long distance. So I guess they are trying to stop those annoying neighbours with their DSLR, or sneaky camera phone photos in the office.

    Other potential reason not mentioned, to possibly make it clear it's all prototype equipment and subject to change.

    For auto focus, drop a coin on the desk next to the controller or focus on an object nearby. For encoded stripes, try another spectrum (not light amp) like infra red or ultraviolet, you need fancy gear for this.

    Put that Kinet to bed already to hell with Kinect I have no interest nor any space for that crap,
    do not bundle it only to cut corners on the console.

    I am a game I have no interest to jump around in my living room, if little kids like it then fine but don't try to force this crap down my throat. Same with the games making them Kinect ONLY is pointless I am the customer I want the choice to be able to use a "NORMAL" controller.
    Replacing a button press with a gesture or voice command is no gamers dream.

    As for the Controller I just want two buttons underneath for your middle fingers.
    One to sprint the other to take cover, the A button has been way too over used and
    forces you to take your thumb off the stick.

    Do this and add your touch screen or what ever you want and we will get along just fine.
    NO KINECT BUNDLE.

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