While every other console controller on the market uses internal rechargeable batteries, Xbox’s still let you use AA batteries to power them, and new remarks by a Duracell spokesperson possibly shed some light on why this is.
“There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox...it’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place,” Duracell UK’s marketing manager, Luke Anderson, told Stealth Optional in an interview spotted by VGC.
Anderson goes on:
[The deal is] for OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers’ battery. So that [deal is] going to go on for a while… it’s been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while [more].
This partnership seems to be backed up by Duracell’s online marketing campaigns which frequently feature Xbox controllers. The new Xbox Series X and S which launched just last November also both come with two Duracell AA batteries, rather than Microsoft’s Xbox-branded rechargeable battery packs,
Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment, but told MCV/Develop in a statement,
We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC.
I was surprised when Microsoft revealed last year that its next-gen controllers would still come pre-packaged with AA batteries. It’s true that the option to choose between using removable, rechargeable battery packs and pre-packaged disposable batteries on the fly offers some nice flexibility.
At the same time, I’ve already run through several packs of AA batteries since I got my launch Series S, and the fact that the rechargeable packs need to be bought separately is another barrier to actually taking advantage of that freedom. Why not package new controllers with both options?
Microsoft’s premium controller, the Xbox Elite Wireless 2, costs $180 and doesn’t come with either. Like the DualShock 4, Dualsense, and Nintendo’s Switch Pro controller, it just has an internal battery you charge by plugging it in. No freedom to choose, but straightforward and convenient enough. Potentially less wasteful too.
Update - 9:31 a.m. ET, 1/8/2021: Microsoft has for some reason declined to provide any on-the-record statement about the Duracell claim, and we remain unclear about the role the Duracell deal plays in how Microsoft offers power solutions for its controllers.
We’ve changed the headline of the story to reflect the lack of clarity on how the deal influences Microsoft’s decision on batteries. The earlier headline was: Xbox Controllers Apparently Still Use AA Batteries Due To An Ongoing Deal With Duracell