There Are Never Enough AA Batteries Around To Power My Xbox One Controller

There Are Never Enough AA Batteries Around To Power My Xbox One Controller

Two AA batteries. That’s all I recently needed to turn my Xbox One controller on and get back to steaming dumplings in Overcooked 2. It was around 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday, though, and I didn’t have any left.

I found an Energizer box crammed upside down in a coffee table drawer. It was empty. As someone who constantly fails to throw out mostly empty cereal and ice cream containers that then dash the hopes of other unsuspecting people, my empty battery box could have been karma. Or it was my own laziness, or both. The universe works in mysterious ways, which is why I shoved the empty Energizer box back in the drawer once again, rather than throwing it out.

A lesser Overcooked chef might have gone to sleep at this point and dealt with the situation in the morning, but I was determined to finish steaming those dumplings.

Could I go out and buy batteries? All the drug stores near me closed at or before midnight. The 24/7 supermarket was only a 10-minute car drive away, but I’d already already pushed deep into my 2006 Rav4’s generous gaslight zone earlier in the day. So I racked my brain trying to think of where else batteries might be hiding in my house.

I scavenged through kitchen drawers, desk drawers, and nightstand drawers, only to find a random assortment of crap: a solar-powered maglight, old Yankee candles, a Samus Smash Amiibo I bought on an impulse to use with Metroid: Samus Returns but never did.

When I was a kid, my parents’ house always seemed to be hiding batteries in drawers. Entire colonies of Duracell, Energizer, and cheap, short-lived off-brands mingled with boxes of match sticks and the occasional Hotwheels car.

Most of them only ever had a little juice left, or were in the process of being thrown out, so selecting between them to power a Game Boy for an important Pokémon trade was a game unto itself, not unlike the scene from Indiana Jones where the Holy Grail sits hidden among a sea of opulent but useless decoys.

Kevin does not approve of my dependence on AA batteries. (Screenshot: Kotaku, Overcooked 2)

My house, I feared that night, doesn’t contain batteries. The manufacturers of just about every device I own stopped using them years ago. My handhelds dating back to the Game Boy SP are all powered by rechargeable internal batteries. I have two generations of DualShock controllers that recharge out of the box.

Only my Xbox One controller came brand new with a spare set of AAs, that…and the remote for the cable box Verizon sent me when I moved. And thank god for that.

After checking everywhere else that night, I finally sat back down on my couch only to realise my saviour was right in front of me. I grabbed that cable remote and opened up its hatch.

I removed the batteries, put them into my Xbox controller and got back to the game. The next day, when I woke up and wanted to watch Premier League on NBC Sports, I swapped them back. When it was halftime and I wanted to play Overcooked 2 again I swapped once more. This is no way to live, and yet it’s how I live.

I could and should buy the rechargeable battery packs Microsoft produces for the Xbox One controllers. By that same token, Microsoft could and should have started included those battery packs as part of the standard controller pack-in long ago.

The Elite controller was revealed back in 2015. It’s still sold with AA batteries. At Gamescom this week in Germany, Microsoft unveiled a new, special edition PUBG Xbox One controller with custom trigger grips to help console players maximise their reaction time and accuracy in the second most popular shooter in the world right now. It also comes with AA batteries.

As The Verge’s Megan Farokhmanesh pointed out last week, there exists a cadre of diehard Xbox fans who actually like that Microsoft hasn’t upgraded.

They say things like “nothing is more annoying than having to charge your controller mid game,” and “Options and flexibility is better than having a weak arse battery inside a controller.” Microsoft used the option line itself in a statement to The Verge on the topic, noting that players are free to do whichever they prefer, although as Farokhmanesh points out, even Microsoft says on its website that AA batteries can lead to a suboptimal experience.

During and after this year’s E3, executives and developers began talking about how the future of gaming is streaming.

Fans have begun speculating about the next generation of consoles and the features they’d like to see in them, things like backwards compatibility, better internet browsers, and much, much larger hard drives.

My request is very simple: no more disposable batteries.


  • I bought a set of Eneloop batteries 2 years ago, they still hold charge for 3 weeks of solid gaming before needing to recharge. They only take 2 hours to charge and less than 10 seconds to replace when they run out, faster than plugging in a USB cable the wrong way.

    I have PS3 controllers that no longer power on because the battery cannot be replaced.

    Give me an AA battery compartment and Eneloop batteries any day.

    • I can replace a ps3 controller battery in less than 5 mins.
      It’s really not hard, only 5 philips head screws and the battery isn’t even glued in.

    • This is the way to go.
      Ideally what I’d like to see is a controller that uses AAs but also has the built-in ability to charge rechargeable batteries. I’ve seen wireless mice do it. But, failing that (and there is a bit to go wrong in that scenario), keep some spare batteries in and around the charger, swap them out when your current set die.

        • Indeed. That is what I’m using currently.
          What I mean is the controller having a built-in ability to recharge, say, NiMh AA batteries.
          Of course, I then go on to say that there’s a bit to go wrong and second-guess the whole idea.

  • Why does the author not have multiple recharged battery packs?
    I’m a super casual gamer, at most a few hours a week, and I have a set of batteries on charge at all times.

  • Not to pick holes, but… is there any reason you didn’t just use a USB cable for the controller?

    Options and flexibility is better than having a weak arse battery inside a controller.

    I honestly used to agree with this (and still do, to an extent), and it was one of the things pushing me towards the Xbox One over the PS4 at the start of this console generation, but in the end still went for the Playstation. After getting fed up with the meagre battery life, my solution was to replace the “weak-arse battery” in my DS4 with a larger one I picked up off ebay.

    • I have two controllers on a charging dock next to the sofa. Dock one, grab the other, continue gaming. And they last longer than they take to charge, so there’s always one ready to go.

      My sole XBox One controller has a rechargable battery pack and a cable long enough to reach me anyway. If I used it more, I’d probably get a second controller and a charging dock… (a strategy I also used with the PS3).

  • Easy. A charger. An Xbox rechargeable battery.

    In this day and age, so many AA batteries is awfully wasteful and this article is a pretty piss poor gripe.

    The cost you spend on batteries vs a rechargeable is ridiculous also. You want a controller to have a battery pack in built so the battery can degrade, be outside of warranty and then have to fork out another $100? And the fact you can buy batteries at literally any shop at 1 in the morning, but not a new controller?

    Who green lights these articles? Very poorly argued and even worse in the execution.

  • Just use a microUSB phone charger cable and you can use the Xbox controller without any batteries.

    maximise their reaction time
    No one wants to maximise reaction time – everyone is trying to minimise their reaction time.

  • Microsoft need to create controllers like everyone else (PS,Nin), rechargeable and have their own internal batteries, even Microsoft recharging battery doesn’t last long and then stops recharging at all (had one less than 2 months before it stopped working), currently have Energizer charge system and it works better than Microsoft’s own charging battery.

    • And if Microsoft followed the trend as you say, you wouldn’t have the option of the much better Energizer charge system and you’d be stuck with the Microsoft one that, in your experience, only lasted 2 months.
      Better they keep doing what they’re doing and you can swap out the batteries/battery packs when they fail.

  • You literally need 4 rechargeable batteries and make sure the dead ones you just took out go on the charger. I don’t understand why this is difficult?

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