The Xbox Elite Controller Was Premium, And I Respect That

The Xbox Elite Controller Was Premium, And I Respect That
Image: Microsoft

For a multi-billion dollar industry that is supposedly at the vanguard of 21st-century technology advancement, video games sure like to keep things basic.

Think about it: there’s very little that’s premium about console video gaming. You can’t buy a fancier version of the Switch with an OLED screen and stronger buttons. You can’t buy a PS5 in a smaller form factor with a brushed gunmetal case.

Isn’t that weird? If I want to buy a bigger, more expensive phone than the standard iPhone, I can. If I want to buy a top-end model of a car, I can (well, I could if I could afford one). TVs, clothes, even PC gaming hardware, you name it, nearly everything on this planet that you can buy, you can buy it in a premium form factor, whether you want a superior build quality or just to flex on people (or both!).

Yet consoles launch in a fairly standard form, and over their lifetime only get cheaper. That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, and over the last decade all three platform holders have done a good job of making their machines look like well-made, respectable pieces of consumer electronics. I’m not saying anything we have available at the moment is cheap.

I’m just saying sometimes I wish the option was there to go a little fancier.

I’m far from rich, but occasionally I like to treat myself. I think, if the budget ever allows it, it’s a fun and worthwhile thing to do. Usually with a nice pair of sneakers, or maybe dinner for the family at a swish restaurant. In December 2015, in a very rare example of being able to do this in the video game space, I treated myself to an Xbox Elite wireless controller.

I’m of the opinion that the Xbox controller design, which is now entering its third console generation, is as close to ergonomic perfection as a controller can get. The stick layout is great for everything from driving games to shooters, the buttons are in just the right spot, and the whole thing just feels so good in the hand.

The Elite was expensive, around half the price I’d paid for my Xbox One itself, but given the line of work I’m in, and the fact I could also use it on my PC, I figured what the hell, it was probably worth it.

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I’ve never looked back. Five years later it’s still sitting here, albeit plugged into my PC for the most part, getting used almost every single day, and still looking as good as the day I bought it. If you’ve never used one, the Elite has the same overall design as a standard Xbox One controller, only everything about it is just better. The plastic casing is thicker and heavier, providing more heft in the hand, while the sticks are a wonderfully-smooth metal and the triggers are a work of art. It even comes in a big, tough carrying case.

It is, in other words, premium. A very rare example of console gaming trying to hit that spot in the market, and an even rarer example of it succeeding.

And I love it. I love how it has evolved from a curious flex into an indispensable tool, something I use 6-7 times a week (justifying the initial cost), and which I’ve been able to count on every time, and never had it fail me (Note: I’m aware others may have had reliability issues, as with any manufactured good, but this is my story, not theirs/yours). If I was a trucker the Elite would be my truck, if I was a photographer it would be my camera.

So thank you, Microsoft, for waking up one day and figuring, you know what, let’s make something premium. I appreciate the opportunity to invest in it, and wish Sony and Nintendo would take note.


  • Not really very premium at all – the triggers are made of plastic as are the machanisms inside under the trigger – mine broke within a few months of owning one.
    The rubberised grips are also quite well known for peeling off.

    • I found both of my xbox elites controllers to be “premium”. Huge improvements compared to base controllers. Yes the rubber grips of my Gen1 controller did peel off, took about 3000 hours of Rocket League before we got to that point. I guess that means its not a premium product…

      • Considering the internal components are the same as the regular controller, then no not really premium.
        Its made to look premium but under the hood its the same as the regular.
        The QC quite frankly is just not good enough for a $250 item – an item triple the price of the regular model.

    • The peeling off of grips has happened to a few but everything else you experienced seems to be unlucky. Just like all electronics there’s always a small failure rate. Ive had a surface pro pretty much blow up on its second day of use. No point getting pissy about it because these things happen, doesn’t make it a bad product either… unless its a xbox 360 and more than half of them blow up at some point haha. Microsoft simply replaced the surface it within 3 days so no problem at all.

      Both elite controllers have been exceptional in my opinion. Cant be beat.

      I welcome more many more premium experiences please.

    • I’ve had shit luck with Logitech mice before… We’re talking like three failures in six months. If that was their typical failure rate per person they’d be out of business.

      Way too many people get a whole sample size of just themselves and think it applies to an entire production line, or even an entire brand… That shit is like a lottery winner giving tips on how to win the lottery when it’s pure luck of the draw.

  • There was a publicised pre-order where you can buy gold plated consoles, there was preorders for a 24 carat gold and 18 karate rose gold plated PS5s.

    The joke was it was cheaper to buy the gold plated PS5 than pay eBay scalpers.

  • Loved mine to death, but yeah, the rubber pads on the thumb sticks eventually gave out and you have to rely on 3rd party sites for replacement parts.

    Still the best PC gamepad I’ve ever used.

  • My Elite 1 lasted from launch until just a few months ago, when a bad drop on it’s side on a hard floor damaged thebtight bumper. I got many 1000s of hours play from it, my grips never peeled (guess I was lucky there, hearing reports from others) – and I’d say it was far and away the best controller I’ve owned in near 40byears of gaming.

    I’d get an elite s2, but tbh the lack of removable battery and release of Series Xbox (one more button!) has me somewhat reluctantly waiting for the elite 2.5/3 to be announced…

    I’m waiting!

    • For what it’s worth, I believe every Xbox One controller is compatible with the Series X/S. The Elite’s especially.

      However, I personally only even bought my Elite 2 because a Series X is pointless to me since I have a gaming PC.

      • Yeah, controller BC is awesome. I use my vanilla XBO controller for a 2p controller on XBSX. And excluding how Wii remotes worked on Wii U (when required), GC controllers on Wii (when required), I’d have to back to original Playstation/2 to remember a time when controllers had BC.

        It’s just that if I’m paying premium rates, and there’s an extra button I’m not getting, I’ll feel like a goose. Especially when they do release the Elite 3. That and the non removabale battery thing, as one of the high points of the platform for me is being able to swap batteries on the fly, and never have to have the thing plugged in while I play.

        • Well technically the Elite already has 5 more buttons than standard because of the back paddles plus the profile switch button.

          So I can’t speak to this directly since I don’t have a Series X/S to try it myself… But since the buttons can be remapped, stands to reason one could be mapped to the share button anyway.

          It’s actually something I tried Googling to find an answer on earlier because I was just generally curious if they’d changed anything specifically for the Series X/S as far as being able to use the profile switch button as the share button also. Like tap to share, hold to switch profile, etc.

          All this said, I’m not trying to convince you to buy an Elite 2, it’s absolutely the smarter play to wait for an Elite 3 now if you own the new console and controller as it is. I’m genuinely just curious how the button remapping works with the new consoles.

        • Why don’t you like the fact the elite 2 has an inbuilt battery? i can tell you from experience it lasts for a ridiculous amount of gaming hours before needing a charge and it comes with a charging dock. Just chuck it on the dock once a week, or less, and your good to go.

          There was a 4 year gap between the elite 1 and elite 2 controllers. Since the elite 2 only came out almost exactly a year ago i don’t think the elite 3 is anywhere near being close

          Can confirm you can map any button to share, capture picture, capture video, whatever you want! It also has shift functionality. Assign a button to that becomes the shift button and while holing that button you can remap every single button on the controller to something else. Its ridiculously good

  • Actually pretty garbage to be honest.

    It’s a great weight, lovely grip and all the parts just move like velvet.

    Except that I shouldn’t have to return a series 2 version 3 times and still not have one that works.

    Buttons would missfire and stick and just generally make it unusable

    You’d think for an AUD 250 device it would be flipping perfect. But alas.

  • “Premium”

    Give us a break. Yet there’s been so much defect units that there’s now an on-going class lawsuit against these so called ‘Elite’ controller. s

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