After 6 Years, Microsoft Makes Xbox 360 Controller That Works Right

Ever since Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in late 2005, gamers have had to put up with a clunky directional pad that lacked precision and actually made it possible for fools out there to get lucky enough to beat me at Tecmo Bowl once in a while. Now the company has announced a redesigned controller, but it will cost players looking to upgrade.

The new controller, which boasts a transforming d-pad, allowing you to swap it from an 8-direction disc shape to a four-direction pad that’s been standard since the mid-1980s, when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king of living rooms. Those who use the new controller will no doubt have a tremendous advantage in online play in some games, but they’ll pay for the edge. The controller, due out Nov. 9, will cost $65 in a bundle with a USB charging cord. Current 360 controllers can be had for $30.

If you have an Xbox 360, have you been frustrated enough with the old controller to spring for a new one?

New Xbox 360 Wireless controller featuring a transforming D-Pad [Major Nelson via Joystiq]


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  1. digital0verdose says:

    It’s way too soon to say that this controller works right. How about waiting until it’s released and some reviews crop up before making a bold claim like that?

    • Martha Chang says:

      Ths rtcl ws wrttn b Phl Vllrrl. wldn’t xpct jrnlstc ntgrt.

    • DanRydell says:

      That’s just Phil’s snarky way of saying the current controller doesn’t work right, accuracy be damned (if you care about accurate reporting, you wouldn’t read Phil’s articles).

  2. xnihilx says:

    My husband got so tired of the Dpad problems he bought a different controller chassis to put the guts in.

  3. narcs says:

    too little, too late… or rather Too Expensive, Too Late. Does anyone really use the d-pad? What? for fighting games? You should have a fight stick for that.

    charging $60 for a option to raise the d-pad is ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as spending $60 on a Halo Reach controller – does the Reach Con help you in anyway in-game? Nope, its just greyscaled skinned.

    Thanks but no thanks Micro$oft.

    • alstein says:

      Tekken players tend to use d-pads plenty.

      I use an arcade stick for games personally.

    • Dyscord says:

      It’s in a bundle, which is why it’s 65. Of course, I do agree that not many people are going to run out and buy this. However it’ll probably start becoming standard in consoles and such.

      And FYI Phil, This probably doesn’t need to be said, but the xbox controller on Amazon is $35 bucks, not 30. Also, comparing the MSRP to an Amazon price isn’t really fair.

  4. chaesar says:

    Will the raised, 4-direction d-pad stand up to the abuse? Stay tuned

  5. pop top says:

    I never noticed anything really wrong with the d-pad, but most of the games I play didn’t utilize it much. Although I will say that quick switching weapons in Borderlands with the d-pad could be a bit frustrating at times, but that was the only game I really noticed any issues with it.

    • digital0verdose says:

      A vast majority of those with issues with the D-pad are those heavily involved with fighting games, particularly the 2D type. Outside of that genre, there is little use for such a precise D-pad.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Any game for the Xbox that used the D-Pad suffered from a severe lack of accuracy. I used it in Fallout 3 for weapon switching, and I basically just stuck with the four cardinal directions because the diagonals were so fail.

      • jefeloco says:

        Same here, lol!

        I would put weapons that I absolutely wanted on the four main points and weapons that would be interesting (if I could get it right the first try) on the diagonals.

        I didn’t like wearing down Lincoln’s Repeater or the MIRV anyways… and don’t get me started on the lack of mini-nukes to be had.

        • Daemon Xar says:

          Really? I only ever used mini-nukes on the Behemoths and once or twice on Super Mutant Overlords or Feral Ghoul Reavers . . . I always felt like I had lots of extras.

  6. HazyCloud says:

    After 6 years?

    On November 22, 2010, the Xbox 360 will be 5 years old.

    As for this new controller, Microsoft needs to remove the “special edition” from the packaging and just start using these in the consoles.

    Also for $65 you get the controller, a USB charge cable AND a rechargeable battery. Didn’t notice the battery in your post.

    • SteveZim1017 says:

      but pointing that out would make it sound less outragious.

      there are 3rd party controllers that have been out for years that solve this problem. I’m not sure how many people would be so bothered by the d-pad that they would now fork over the 65 bucks when they could have forked over less for the same result years ago.

    • Rocket says:

      Yes, after 6 years. I’m sure the controller was in the works before the 360 was released.

      • HazyCloud says:

        Ehh, I don’t think that works here. Consumers didn’t get the controller into their hands until 05. Isn’t that who decides if it’s right?

      • coren says:

        And this controller was in the works before it’s release too, so 5 years is probably still the appropriate timeframe.

  7. macdude22 says:

    I’ll stick to the Hori Turbo pad for games I need a DPAD on for now. Since I already have 4 wireless controllers.

  8. Jigen says:

    Might be worth picking up through ExpertZone, assuming they put it on there. The monochrome buttons are nice, though i know the button layout more by color than I do letters.

  9. Rask says:

    That headline is pretty freaking harsh. The 360 controller works great and the d-pad is really the only weak point of it. And that one works fine for anything except fighting games..

    • chaesar says:

      no boring headlines here, incendiary sells baby!

    • ChungkingXpress says:

      I’m a fighting game enthusiast (with zero interest in fps games) who’s shunned the 360 for the better part of a decade solely for that reason, I’m actually considering getting a 360 now…

    • superberg says:

      Actually, it’s an issue in any game where one might prefer the d-pad. Games like Lumines and both Castlevanias would arguably be better with improved d-pads. In addition, games that use the d-pad as a quick-access tool could also benefit, since improved response would make using the diagonals more feasible.

      Besides, the fact that it isn’t the most commonly-used part of the pad is no reason for it to be damn-near non-functional. WHICH IT IS.

  10. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I guess I must almost never use the D-pad, as I’ve never noticed any issues. I’m mainly a Fallout 3/Bioshock 2 kind of gal.

  11. PunditGuy says:

    Try as they might, Microsoft is not going to get me to buy any new hardware for my 360 this late in its life cycle. I’m better off saving $65 here and whatever else there toward a 720 or whatever they call the Xbox Next.

    • Halliday says:

      +1. A few months ago I had some GameStop gift card money to burn. I almost bought a new, bigger hard drive. Then M$ announced the new slim Xbox 360. No way I am going to buy a new hard drive for a system that is in the process of being updated.

  12. DanRydell says:

    Hardly any games use the D-pad for anything significant except 2D fighting games, and anyone who plays those enough to care has bought an arcade stick.

    I’m more interested in the new analog sticks – the current ones are so damn good, I don’t know if this change they’ve made could improve them or may make them worse.

  13. full.tang.halo says:

    I don’t see why anyone would buy this over the soon to be released Razer Onza for $40. It has a little different d-pad but is $20 bucks cheaper, wired so you don’t get input lag, analog sticks with customizable tension & 2 extra programmable bumpers .

  14. Six El Sid says:

    Is it just me, or is this article written in a slightly…angry towards MS way?

    The title alone suggest current 360 controllers are junk.

    “Now the company has announced a redesigned controller, but it will cost players looking to upgrade.”
    Yeah, you don’t get one for free, surprisingly.

    The controller, due out Nov. 9, will cost $65 in a bundle with a USB charging cord. Current 360 controllers can be had for $30.
    Link is to a $35 controller.

    • pop top says:

      Phil lets his bias and prejudices shine through most of his work, ESPECIALLY when it comes to video games.

    • theyoungandthebetrayed says:

      And $35 for a controller without the charger and battery.

      Hey Phil, guess what the retail price for a current, inferior controller with a charger and battery is. Yep, $65. If anything the headline should be “New controller to be same retail cost as old one, Amazon sells things below retail!”

  15. hoi-polloi says:

    If you look at the list price for a wireless 360 controller without a charger, it’s $49.99. If you look at the list price of a wireless controller bundled with a charger, it’s $64.99. In other words, Microsoft is updating the controller, and offering it at exactly the same price point as current controllers. The only downside is that you can’t buy the controller without the charging kit. Honest, unbiased reporting at its best!

    Like others, I rarely use the D pad. I actually like the colored buttons, and don’t really see much need to upgrade. My original controller is still in great shape.

  16. SerenityDan says:

    Wouldn’t a d pad that you have to spin to “transform” be prone to spinning while you are playing a game with it? “I’m gonna hit you with a hadouken… AH CRAP my d pad spun half way during the move!”

    And I just do not understand why you would take away the color from the buttons. I don’t remember which is y and which is b. I know which button does what for the game I’m playing and if a button prompt comes up I go off the color it’s telling me I need to hit.

    • MSUHitman says:

      If you’re playing fighting games and you don’t want to shell out for an arcade stick, then you really need to look at Mad Catz line of fightpads. DPad is based on the old Sega Saturn style. They are $40 MSRP but can be gotten for cheaper. They also work great on XBLA games that don’t require both analog sticks to function at once.

  17. Harry_Greek says:


    They jacked up the price for online. They are giving you a “better” controller for $60. DLC is insanely over priced – not Microsoft’s fault, but it proves the point I am getting to; PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR THIS.

    People willingly and gladly fork over a crap load of money for,… crap. Buy a $60 game. And then spend another $15 every 3 months to get rehashed maps with 3 new maps. The consumer isn’t batting an eye when it comes to overpriced video gaming.

    The console makers and the publishers will exploit this to no end. Look at WoW’s mircotransactions for a mount. And, Blizzard/Activision doesn’t give anything away for free either! A thank you digital item would be nice now and then. I mean, they ARE making close to $2 billion every year off of their subscribers (pre-exepenses).

  18. dush says:

    What modern games actually require precision d-pad? All the ones I have use the control stick.

  19. yulingo says:

    Ummm… is it just me or do both of the pictures of the controller look exactly the same? Looks like whoever made that photo put the same image in twice.

  20. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    “If you have an Xbox 360, have you been frustrated enough with the old controller to spring for a new one?”

    Yes. Marvel Vs Capcom 2 with this controller is infuriating. Good to see that they are making changes.

    • MSUHitman says:

      Have you not tried the Mad Catz SF line of fightpads?

      • Twonkey says:

        I’m in the camp that feels that an arcade stick is the only way to play fighting games, but I still think it’s sort of BS that folks should have to buy one to compensate for Microsoft’s crappy stock d-pad. It should be a choice, not requisite.

  21. techknight says:

    I’m skeptical about this controller “working right” – have you even tried it? It’s still a weird stick thingy rather than a true d-pad, whether the cross part is raised or not.

  22. Duckula22 says:

    And the reason not to have done it right the first time around is…?

  23. banmojo says:


    console gaming has dumbed down computer games for us die hard PC gamers. I fear it will be a long time before the joy of RTCW, FarCry, SOF2, etc returns to PCs.

    This controller is yet another way MS is trying to rip off their clients. Shame on you Billie Goat – oh wait, you don’t work there any more. Well, shame on you for creating the model of rip offage that exists today!!

  24. ablestmage says:

    That’s a bit princess-and-the-pea, don’t you think?

    I think the new controller will become a hallmark for people who simply suck at using the original D-pad — I have zero issues with the current D-pad, and am frankly baffled at why it could possibly need an upgrade. If anyone I ever play with boasts about having the controller with a new D-pad, I resolve to stage team-kills as accidents.

  25. thekevinmonster says:

    In other news, the buttons on the right are not color coded any more.


  26. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I haven’t owned a gaming system since an NES back in 1990.

    Could someone explain how the different (8 direction vs. 4 direction) control matters? Don’t they both do essentially the same thing?

  27. Seano666 says:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to point out the idiocy of console gaming. It’s like the Apple of the gaming world. You bought it, but yeah you will continue to pay for it without really having any control over what you have purchased. And when they “update” things that should have been made right to begin with, you better believe they will be sold to you at a premium. PC gaming ftw.

    • coren says:

      As opposed to the PC, which if you want a gaming rig is hundreds of dollars more expensive, still requires upgrades at times, doesn’t provide a uniform experience (if you don’t meet the max specs you don’t get the most out o f the game whereas the consoles provide the same gameplay experience across the board), there’s all kinds of annoying DRM to deal with, and controller support is by no means guaranteed or universal.

      Don’t get me wrong, I game on just about everything, including my PC (Infinity Engine!)but you’re painting a really biased picture here – PC gaming isn’t that superior.

  28. Sammich says:

    “The controller, due out Nov. 9, will cost $65 in a bundle with a USB charging cord. Current 360 controllers can be had for $30.”

    $65 is also the current MSRP for the long-existing Controller + Play & Charge Kit bundle. It’s not like MS is trying to use this to justify a raise in price.

  29. MSUHitman says:

    Buy current 360 controller on sale for $30, buy Mad Catz SF Fightpad for any fighting or XBLA games that need precision D-Pad for $28-$40 (Mad Catz has sales on them anytime there’s a major fighting game tournament follow @markman23 on Twitter) and be done with it.

  30. coren says:

    Sorry, but most games don’t really use the dpad and prefer the stick, a trend which has been going on since Sony’s Dual Shock (which had just a four button dpad).

    This article is heavily biased (unfair comparisons between controller pricing, incorrect data, very slanted writing) and isn’t even written that well (first sentence of the second paragraph in particular is truly bad)

    I expect better stuff out of the consumerist – and if I get my vowels taken away for this one, so be it.

  31. Twonkey says:

    So…rejiggering the d-pad is enough to justify a cost increase? It looks like you can push the base of the d-pad in or some crap, but is that really a 65 dollar innovation?

    • coren says:

      No cost increase. Phil is comparing this version, with a battery pack and charger, to a version without. The old controller generally costs the same.

  32. Twonkey says:

    My issue with the d-pad isn’t that it’s inadequate, it’s that it’s placed at an odd, uncomfortable angle, which often leads me to duck in a 2-D game when what I really want to do is just walk straight on towards the ever-lovin’ goal.

  33. Norvy says:

    Of course, with this improvement, they’ve greyscaled all of the face buttons now so you can’t tell which one is which at a glance!

  34. teke367 says:

    Eh, to me, having the left analog stick place above the d-pad made it pretty useless anyway. I do like the placement of the analog sticks better on the 360, but the placement on the PS3 of the d-pad makes it better to use. I never noticed the sensitivity of the 360’s dpad, because it was so uncomfortable to use regardless.

    That being said, I think for the most part I only used it for old downloadable games. Either way, the old (current) 360 controller is still a lot better than the N64 controller, or the DreamCast one.

  35. Biokinetica says:

    If you were playing games that relied on it at all, there’s your problem. Quit whining.

  36. misterkisses says:

    Only a bad worker blames his tools. If your clumsy sausage fingers can’t press the buttons on a video game controller, that sounds like a personal problem.