Buzz, Entertainment, Gaming, Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox Duke Controller

An Xbox creator explained why the horrid ‘Duke’ controller is coming back

Microsoft’s widely maligned “Duke” controller is coming back, but it hasn’t been clear why the Xbox maker would do such a thing… until now.

Let’s back up. At E3 2017 in June, Microsoft announced a partnership with Hyperkin for the Duke re-release. There was a video teaser and everything.

Last week, Seamus Blackley — one of the architects of the original Xbox — tweeted out a photo of Hyperkin’s new-old controller, our first real look. It looks mostly the same, save for the addition of an extra pair of shoulder buttons (so you can play modern games) and a small screen in the center where a plastic Xbox logo used to sit.

Now, Blackley is back to answer the fundamental question: “Why is there a re-release of the OG Xbox controller when ‘everybody hates it?'” He attempted to provide an answer in a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday.

Apparently, Microsoft outsourced development of the original controller’s circuit board, and the finished product turned out too large. Blackley and his Xbox team made it work, but — as we all know — it was “enormous.”

In the next stretch of tweets, Blackley recounts what happened around the Xbox reveal. It sounds like the oversized controller was a casualty of busy development schedules. He claims to have “lost track” of its progress until “I was standing on stage holding this thing.”

The reveal drew an immediate angry response, because of course it did. Never has there been a more unwieldy controller than the Duke. Not even the Nintendo 64’s weird pistol-grip thing comes close.

The backlash made Blackley’s life difficult, especially as he traveled to Japan to sell the local game development and publishing scene on Microsoft’s new video game console. That, he wrote, is how the more streamlined “S” controller came to exist.

Fast-forward now to 2016. Blackley was going through boxes of stuff when he came across a prototype of the Duke. He tweeted out a photo, and — bizarrely — people got excited. Nostalgia is a powerful force, clearly.

I’ll let Blackley’s own words tell the rest of the story from here. But the TL;DR of it all: It’s your own dang fault, gamers. If you didn’t get nostalgic over old, forgotten, terrible things, they wouldn’t resurface to haunt us years later. 

(For the record: I am 100 percent buying a Duke, even if I hate myself afterward.)

(Also, disregard the tweet numbering below. There isn’t a missing #14 — Blackley merely jumped from 13 to 15.)

Honestly, I’m pretty sure everyone hated the Duke, and everyone will still hate the Duke when it’s here. But it’s an indelible piece of our shared gaming history, and — for lots of players — it summons up fond memories of a more innocent time.

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