Smelly joypads and other wacky Xbox One controller concepts

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Microsoft engineers dreamed up - and rejected - a whole bunch of weird ideas for next gen control, including joypads that would squirt out smells

Release Date: 19/11/2013

When Xbox One launches in the UK on Friday, gamers will get to grips with a redesigned controller that cost over $100 million to develop. It's not that different to the one you'd expect, but Microsoft engineers dreamed up - and rejected - a whole bunch of weird ideas for next gen control, including joypads that would squirt out smells.

This is according to Xbox general manager for accessories Zulfi Alam, who spilled the beans to VentureBeat. "We looked at concepts like adding displays to the controller," he confessed. "We looked at concepts like adding smell. We built small slugs of different types of smells that could actually come out of a controller. Like, as you walked through a jungle, you'd smell the flora."

Other abandoned concepts included touch pads, speakers and cameras in the controller, as well as a projector that would have beamed images around the player. In the end, Alam found that such gimmicks were a distraction that demanded too much in return for too little gameplay enhancement.

"You've got a great TV with a better speaker than we could ever put in this controller, and it made more sense to [not make players look down at a display], keeping the user's attention on the TV," says Alam. "We really want them to be immersed in the experience that's happening in front of them. You're burning battery life like there's no tomorrow - not a great idea."

The cost of all this experimentation wasn't cheap. "I don't want to go into specifics, but it's over $100 million for sure," Alam admits. "Between the tooling of the device, the investments we made in process technology, and the engineering work that went into it, we invested a lot to get this thing right. It's not a drop in the bucket. For any company, when you spend that much money, you have to make sure that the output is amazing. This team bet its careers on this. We were all in."

Xbox One launches on Friday 22nd November.

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