018 XBOX DESIGN LAB
With eight million colour combos, Xbox’s new pad service is brightening our lives
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.