With eight mil­lion colour com­bos, Xbox’s new pad ser­vice is bright­en­ing our lives

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START -

Look at all the pret­ties. The Xbox De­sign Lab, where you can cus­tom build a per­sonal Xbox One con­troller, launched last Septem­ber in the US, and is due to hit the UK and Europe later this year. It feels ag­o­nis­ing to wait, but it hasn’t damp­ened our ex­cite­ment for cre­at­ing per­son­alised Xbox pads so out­ra­geously colourful they’d make rain­bows look more mono­chrome than Steam­boat Wil­lie.

Our sis­ter web­site GamesRadar+ re­cently spoke to Monique Chat­ter­jee, one of the prin­ci­pal de­sign leads on the De­sign Lab. Un­sur­pris­ingly, she has plenty of in­ter­est­ing tit­bits to share about the chal­lenges that come with mak­ing con­trollers sport so many dif­fer­ent colours, in­clud­ing how the pro­duc­tion process for these play­erde­signed pads dif­fers from the stock mod­els Mi­crosoft usu­ally ships.

“We needed to get our resin for­mu­las up to a spec where we had con­fi­dence that if you leave your con­troller in sun­light it’ll still look good in a cou­ple of years,” says Chat­ter­jee. “All the parts will fade at kind of the same rate – they shouldn’t fade much at all – but they all meet the same UV sta­bil­ity grade. Just get­ting all the resin for­mu­las on a par with one an­other was a chal­lenge.”

‘Chal­lenge’ is the word. A quick glance at the De­sign Lab’s nifty creator por­tal shows 15 colours vy­ing for your con­troller’s af­fec­tions. When you go to cre­ate that dream Xbox One pad with a Re­gal Pur­ple body (yes, ev­ery hue has its own Mi­crosoft­branded moniker), Ash Grey bumpers,

“De­sign Lab really puts the cre­ative con­trol and means of ex­pres­sion in play­ers’ hands”

Ox­ide Red thumb­sticks and Ro­bot White view and menu button (oooh, ah­hhh), spare a thought for Chat­ter­jee and her team, okay?

Pad to the bone

These cus­tom con­trollers also raised busi­ness con­cerns. Chief among them: would these player-cho­sen pads eat into the ex­ist­ing lim­it­ededi­tion con­troller mar­ket? After all, if you can de­sign your own flashy, mul­ti­coloured pe­riph­eral (even if it will set you back $80/ap­prox £60), are you really go­ing to be that des­per­ate for the lat­est Halo-themed pad? “There was a lot of talk about that po­ten­tial con­flict in the be­gin­ning,” ad­mits Chat­ter­jee. “But I think we moved past it pretty quickly when we re­alised the value of De­sign Lab was really putting the cre­ative con­trol, or the means of ex­pres­sion, in the fans’ hands.”

With more colours set to be added to the on­line cre­ation suite, and the ser­vice due to come to the UK at some point in 2017, the fu­ture looks bright. (Lit­er­ally – have you seen those Light­ning Yel­low trig­gers or thought about the rain­bow ar­ray of colours you could com­bine for the most amaz­ing con­troller ever?) We’ve al­ready got dibs on a pad coloured en­tirely in Mi­crosoft’s lip-lick­ing Zest Or­ange. You can read the whole interview with Chat­ter­jee over at GamesRadar.com

right All De­sign Lab pads are as­sem­bled by hand and de­liv­ered to you within 14 days. be­low The ABX Y but­tons have fewer colour pro­files due to a com­plex three­lay­ered de­sign.

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