Xbox One Design Labs Custom Controller Impressions

Xbox One

It was during E3 that Microsoft surprised and enthused gamers by making an unexpected announcement. That is, their plans to enter the custom controller business, making them the inaugural first party manufacturer to do so. Needless to say, it created quite a talking point, with everyone from collectors and enthusiasts to casual gamers wanting to design an Xbox One controller that would highlight their inner selves.

Thanks to Microsoft, We Got This Covered was able to obtain a code that allowed us to design, order and test out one of these Design Lab custom controllers for editorial purposes. I was lucky enough to get that opportunity – being the controller collector and obsessor that I am – and took to the process with much excitement. The result is something truly my own, which, while somewhat basic, advertises both my love of red and subdued personality.

The process is rather simple. To start, one must visit the Xbox Design Labs, wherein they’ll be presented with a decent amount of colour-coded options. It doesn’t take long – maybe five minutes or so – and is very easy to understand, as all you need to do is click on the colours you want each part to be, before hitting next. If you want a blue controller with pink triggers and shoulder buttons, so be it. Or, if you’re like me and want a heavy dose of red, that option is available too. As people have proven, there are a lot of possibilities to be discovered, allowing each gamer (and personality type) to be serviced.

What’s nice is that, in addition to two-dimensional images, a 3D version of your creation can be inspected and rotated before purchase. It’s not exact, as the final product will likely look a bit different, but it’s a good guideline for what to expect.

In addition to being able to select the colours for each part of your controller, including the face and back plates, the triggers and shoulder buttons, and all of the face buttons, you can also opt to personalize it further, by adding a name or nickname of your choice. This moniker – which costs about ten dollars extra to add – is written in golden text near the bottom of the accessory, nestled in-between its d-pad and its right joystick. Whether you go that extra mile is entirely up to you (and your budget, of course), but it certainly adds another layer of personalization to the already unique process.

When I ordered my controller, E3 2016 had just finished, and June was coming to a close. Although it was hinted that the thing may ship during August, that wasn’t the case. In fact, I waited a bit longer than some others did before getting mine, and kept an impatient eye out for a shipping notice.

Speaking of which, it’s important to state that these controllers are manufactured and shipped from China. That didn’t cross my mind until I saw the tracking number and plugged it in, but I ended up getting to watch as my creation went from China to the Phillipines and then on to Anchorage, Alaska, before coming home to Canada. The thing is undoubtedly more of a world traveler than its owner is, and I’m happy to report that – thanks to some smart packaging – everything arrived in perfect condition, within a really nice-looking box that’s unique to the Design Labs process.

I’ve since opened and tested out my newfound friend, and am pretty happy with the results. The red – which I worried I’d maybe overused – looks great, and the grey backplate is perfectly fitting. It works very well, too, outside of having shoulder buttons that make a louder clicking noise than I was expecting. Hopefully they’ll quiet down over time.

Xbox One

Being that they’re the new and redesigned Xbox One S controllers, those who purchase these expensive toys can expect all of the bells and whistles that come with that. This includes Bluetooth, a refined form factor and etched in grips. The only downside is, unfortunately, said grips, because they’re not nearly as defined as they should have been. In comparison to the black rubber grips that the special edition Forza Motorsport 6 and Lunar White controllers had, these imitations leave a lot to be desired. It is what it is, though, and at least they’re kind of there.

Although your mind was likely made up before you visited this article, I hope that I’ve shone some light on the simple process that is creating an Xbox One Design Labs controller. It’s an impressive, fun and exciting option, and one that has led to some gorgeous creations. The only true downside is how expensive it is, especially for us Canadians who are looking at well over $100 before taxes.

This impressions piece is based on a product we were provided with.

About the author


Chad Goodmurphy

A passionate gamer and general entertainment enthusiast, Chad funnels his vigor into in-depth coverage of the industry he loves.