The first Xbox controller that was released in 2001 is coming back from its grave. For some reason, the father of the original Xbox, Seamus Blackley, has decided to revive the peripheral that has been dead for years.
CES 2018 did not just showcase new and upcoming products from tech companies, it also served as the venue for Blackley and peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin to reintroduce the original Xbox controller called “The Duke.”
For the most part, the new Duke controller is just a resurrected version of the original one. Hence, it pretty much looks like its old self. However, Blackley did not miss the chance to incorporate subtle changes in the rebooted hardware.
First and foremost, the most glaring upgrade is the modified jewel. The new Duke’s jewel has an OLED screen underneath that shows the Xbox startup animation when users press it. CNET has learned directly from Blackley that this is a feature he had always wanted for the original version.
Another modification pertains to the new tiny shoulder buttons above the triggers. These two buttons will come in handy when users play Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC-based XInput games that typically pop-up Xbox button prompts every time a controller is plugged in.
The revival also comes with a USB cable, which users will need when they want to connect the peripheral to an Xbox One or PC. Unfortunately, part of the changes is the removal of the memory card slots. Other than these four alterations, the rebooted Duke is a solid recreation of the original controller in terms of shape, size and materials used.
So why did Microsoft revive the Xbox Duke controller? Blackley disclosed that he found the need for it after learning via Twitter that fans do miss the infamously oversized controller. “I discovered to my horror and fascination that The Duke was an object of nostalgia and comfort and happiness and childhood memories, and all these people with big hands saying it was the only controller that was comfortable.”
Blackley then revealed that his idea of rebooting the Duke controller got an approval right away. “I contacted Phil, who was a buddy of mind, and asked, ‘Phil, is this crazy enough to do?’ and some of the hardware guys who were there when the Xbox was on the drawing board said we should absolutely do it.”
— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) January 12, 2018
The new Xbox Duke controller is slated for a late March release. It will be compatible with Xbox One and PC at launch, and it is reportedly valued at $69.99.