Microsoft Xbox controller forced to use AA batteries but not due to its agreement with Duracell

Microsoft Xbox Game Controller Batteries
Microsoft doesn’t have to use Duracell disposable batteries. Pic credit: Quentin Le Gohic / Pixabay

Microsoft has cleared the air about multiple reports that claimed the company must use single-use Duracell batteries in the Xbox game controllers.

The Windows 10 maker has indicated that there’s some pressure to use AA batteries. However, the insistence on disposable batteries does not come from the battery-maker.

There was a general uproar on social media after a few reports suggested Microsoft had to use AA batteries for the game controllers. Microsoft Xbox game consoles are by far the only ones to still use AA batteries for their game controllers.

Needless to add, the archaic choice is puzzling. But as it turns out Microsoft sticking with AA batteries has a lot to do with buyer preference than any deal, signed or unsigned, with Duracell.

Microsoft forced to used Duracell AA batteries in Xbox game controllers?

Microsoft and Duracell go way back. The companies aren’t in the same tech domain. However, they share a lot of promotional material. In fact, Duracell and Microsoft have appeared together in Duracell’s marketing materials on quite a few occasions.

As evident from the marketing Tweet above, the new Xbox Series X and S both have two Duracell AA batteries. Incidentally, there are Microsoft Xbox-branded rechargeable battery packs.

Hence the story about Microsoft being forced to keep using AA batteries inside Xbox game controllers made some sense. Duracell UK’s marketing manager Luke Anderson sparked the rumors. In an interview with Gfinity blog Stealth Optional, Anderson said,

“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].”

Microsoft sets the record straight about AA batteries instead of lithium-ion battery packs for Xbox game controllers:

Microsoft has opened up and addressed the reports. Essentially, the company has clarified that it made a conscious design choice.

The choice to use AA batteries within Xbox game controllers is not due to any partnership with Duracell. In other words, there might be a verbal agreement. However, there’s no legally-binding written contract which states Microsoft must use single-use, disposable AA batteries for game controllers.

Microsoft issued a statement to MCV/Develop, which reads, “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.”

This statement might be evasive. However, during an interview, Microsoft veteran Jason Ronald, partner director of program management at Xbox had said, “What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarizing and there is a strong camp that really wants AAs. So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.”

This clearly means Microsoft’s choice is consumer-driven and not influenced by battery manufacturers, particularly Duracell. In other words, pre-packaged disposable batteries are merely convenient. Gamers can quickly replace drained batteries with new ones and continue their gaming sessions.

While there are practicality and convenience, Microsoft appears to be cleverly playing both sides. Microsoft does offer rechargeable battery packs, but consumers must purchase them separately. Incidentally, Microsoft’s premium controller, the Xbox Elite Wireless 2 doesn’t offer any choice. The controller, costing nearly $200, has an internal battery that users must charge by connecting the entire controller to a USB cable.

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