Video Game Controller Hygiene And How Bad Controller Design Can Make Or Break Your Gaming Experience

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Regardless of your stance on who is winning, losing, should drop out; there are at least three major players in the video game console market. That number has varied across each generation of console gaming. However, regardless of all of that, one thing that each console developer shares is a necessity to supply their hardware with a solid controller for their consumer to enjoy.

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As a gamer, over twenty five years of gaming starting in the fourth generation of console gaming with a genesis, I’ve had my fair share of controller mishaps. I’ve experienced controllers breaking too close to their purchase date (still under warranty),  controllers I’ve neglected to take care of properly, and just the run of the mill wear and tear. Additionally, I’ve also had some amazing, game changing, positive experiences with some hardware that changed the way I view a particular hardware developer and how I play and engage with the games on that particular platform. Below is a very small sample of controllers I own. These are just from the last two or three, generations of gaming.

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The majority of game controller mishaps, general peripheral device failures, I’ve experienced has had a sharp decline since my youth. Simply because I’ve had so many wire shortages, dropped controllers, spills and splashes on my controllers that I’ve realized I must set some boundaries or standard operating procedures in my usage of them. Secondly, the price for video game controllers seem to be at an all-time high, not even mentioning the nuance of “Pro” controllers in the market. Is inflation to blame for this price surge? Probably… its at least one of the many contributing factors.

Some of my favorite genres, these are the genres which would be more likely in contributing to extra wear on my device, are Fighting Games and First Person Shooters. (Currently, Blizzard’s Overwatch is my crack cocaine as the game is the first to remind me of a fighting game and a first person shooter, fused.) Yes, the two genres which are probably some of the most competitive on the planet, overlooking PC’s MOBAs like League or DOTA2, are somewhat to blame for broken devices. The execution of commands, reaction time, those clutch final seconds in a heated battle, are all taxing on our little plastic controllers. However, some boast steel parts like the Xboxone Elite Controller, more on that below…

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Now, I’d like to take the time to introduce you to the controller that almost became my favorite controller of all time. Above is a shot of my Xboxone Elite Controller with the Xboxone Chat Adapter plugin.

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Notice, above I mentioned that it “almost” became my favorite controller. In the future I will break down my favorite controllers for each genre as I’ve now become much more particular in my usage of controllers… i.e. swapping them out after a number of hours played, similar to my rule of not wearing shoes back-to-back, using specific controllers for specific games etc. Additionally I’ve now picked up cases for all my non-pro controller favorites. I say this because most “Pro” controllers, including the Xboxone Elite Controller, come with cases or the ability to purchase a case for the controller. Controllers having cases prolong the life of the controller and helps mitigate additional wear. However, cases cannot prevent a controller from completely wearing down or prolong the life of a controller doomed to fail…

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Yes, my first Xboxone Elite controller had “Bumper Jumper” failure. Bumper Jumper, for those unaware, is a controller scheme in which the preferred Jumping button is remapped from the “A” button to the “LB” Left Bumper Button. This is a growing and popular button layout for those who wish to opt out of “Pro” controllers. It’s honestly the cheaper and better way to go if you want to play games like Titanfall or Overwatch, both involving wall running characters, without investing in a controller with additional buttons. Now, as far as modern controllers go, I’ve not had many issues with broken controllers since the days before the Gamecube. Even my two Nintendo Gamecube Wavebirds, for use with Smash Bros Melee, are still alive and kicking without any issues, not even suffering the minimal analog stick drift.

However, this Bumper Jumper Failure happened to me on two occasions. The first being two weeks into purchasing the controller for the first time, the second being a few months later….

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This was the first time in my life that, I swore going forward; to only buy future gaming hardware from “Best Buy” with their product replacement program. They have earned themselves a life-time customer, or at least one till their policy changes for the worse. So I currently still own, a complete and fully functional, Xboxone Elite Controller. Only after replacing the controller twice with Best Buy… Yet, after this experience, I’m too afraid to use it for gaming. I actually haven’t used the controller for any full gameplay sessions and have only used it as a way to install an Xboxone controller driver on a windows 8.1 PC for the controller pictured below…

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I present you with the Hori Pad Pro! My new favorite controller, at least for First Person Shooters on Console. Additionally, you can use this on PC for all platforms/games supported by the Xboxone controller. Below are some more images of the device.

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Did you notice? You did right? Paddles, well not traditional paddles like SCUF gaming offers but rear buttons, four in fact! I honestly can’t recommend this controller enough for FPS gamers. I will list some Pro’s and Con’s below

  • PROS
    • Light weight and sturdy, I’ve been gaming on one since November 2016 (Over 7 months)
    • Four rear buttons natively mapped to each face button. (No need for Bumper Jumper Schemes and great for games that don’t have button remapping)
    • Programmable Remapping System, you can remap any of the buttons on the controller to other ones, same for the four bottom buttons.
    • Price point is extremely low when compared to other controllers at around $45 – $60 on Amazon. (I bought my last one for $45.27USD, I own multiples since I love them so much).
  • CONS
    • Wired controller, the cable is shorter than desired at 8.2 feet. (Can be extended with USB extender)
    • Trigger buttons are tight, they don’t need a ton of force from your hand but if you are playing a game where you must hold them for extended periods of time then your hand may get tired.
    • Triggers are not pressure sensitive, could be a problem for racing games.
    • No Microphone port for headset (Could be a deal breaker for some).
    • Low/Minimal Stock? Hori needs to get on this QUICK
      • Alternate sellers on amazon have priced too high, see $164 vs Hori’s $45

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I currently have a stock pile of controllers I need to review and finish my impressions on. While the Xboxone Elite Controller has given me trouble, I haven’t reviewed it because I haven’t used it as a primary controller for over three months… I played a ton of Halo 5 with mine and loved it, however I still have my reservations about the device due to, and only, the bumpers. (Bumpers are used for thrusting and grenades in Halo 5). I ended up playing less of my Xboxone because of my issues with the Elite, right around season 3 of overwatch when I switched from my primary platform of Xboxone to PS4. A controller issue can ruin your playtime and progress on a platform.

In time I will post impressions of SCUF Gamings Xboxone Controller, and Razer’s Wildcat for Xboxone. Eventually I will get into some PS4 controllers and some fightpads, specifically for fighting games (preview, nothing beats the Sega Saturn D-Pad).

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