According to a recent interview, Duracell and Microsoft entered an agreement some time ago meaning that Xbox controllers must use replaceable batteries rather than built-in Li-ion batteries.
This is a plot twist. The admission comes from the UK marketing manager for the company who was speaking to Stealth Optional. "There's always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox... It's a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place... [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]," said Luke Anderson. It's very confusing to consider that Microsoft may have no choice but to manufacture controllers that require replaceable batteries due to this agreement with the battery brand, regardless of what its competitors are using to power their controllers.
Additionally, Anderson explained that the partnership has "been going on for a while," and would continue into the future. If these talks took place at the start of the Xbox, then the deal may have been active for the last fifteen years. Now, Microsoft supplied its own statement to MCV/Develop on the matter, but it wasn't keen to delve into its agreement with Duracell. "We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers," it began. "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."
Crucially, the choice to say "intentionally" seems to suggest that the company isn't beholden to the battery brands demands, though it is evident that the two are embroiled in some sort of an arrangement. Since the Xbox 360, released in 2005, the accompanying batteries for the wireless Xbox controllers have always been from Duracell. And, because the Xbox Series X and Series S also rely upon replaceable batteries, the arrangement may only endure until the end of this generation.
That's still a ways away, realistically. Though, Microsoft is interested in what players would like to see in a new controller, including the possibility of integrating haptic feedback like the DualSense.
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