Xbox Design Lab - A Neat Way to Make Xbox One Gaming Personal

by Kirby Yablonski

A few weeks ago I had the chance to "create" my own custom controller using the new Xbox Design Lab that anyone can find on the website right HERE. I am sure most of you already know about this service, but for those few individuals still living under a rock, or who have missed the boat on announcements over the past 6 weeks or so, at E3 this year Microsoft unveiled a new service where people can custom design a new Xbox One S controller, which is compatible with the original Xbox One, and have it shipped to their house. Of course there is a cost to this creation experience, that being you pay more for your personalized controller. First things first though, let's talk about the whole design process.

One of the main caveats to the Xbox Design Lab experience is that you get to design the look of your controller. Now, we need to get things straight right from the get-go, you only have control of the various colours for various parts of the controller. You won't be adding different sized analog sticks, paddles, or any fancy stuff like that, your personalization lies in how it looks, hence the control in choosing various colours only. That's not a bad thing though, as there is a fairly wide choice of colours, and parts, that you'll be choosing from. This includes the body, bumpers & triggers, the d-pad, the analog thumb sticks, the ‘A, B, X, Y' buttons, the ‘view' & ‘menu' buttons, and finally the back of the controller. So, as you can see there is a nice choice of the controller's existing parts that you'll be customizing with colour.

During the process I took screen captures of all the steps when designing my own controller. I have included some them in this article itself, but the whole process can be viewed in picture form at the end of the article. Personally, I don't think the process of designing your own controller could have been any simpler. It's a ‘point & click' experience that does not take much time, and it very user friendly. I know that one of our fellow staffers here at XboxAddict had his almost 4-year-old daughter help him design a controller and he was amazed how quick she was able to pick up on what she had to do. Yes, if a child who is about to turn four can do it, so can any one of you reading this. The process takes you from start to finish in no time and you can view your product, in 3D nonetheless (being able to turn in all angles in real time) as you create your ‘work of art'.

For me, I have only one complaint, and that is the fact that I wanted a few more colour choices for the thumbsticks and all the buttons. I know that a few designs I experimented with I wished I had the choice for the ‘A, B, X, Y' buttons lettering inside the buttons to match the colour of the controller's front shell that I had chosen. As well, the thumbstick colours are just a tad, and I do mean tad, too few. A couple of more colours here would have been appreciated. Hey, I am just being honest here ok, or picky if you will, cause that's the way I roll.

Given how many aspects of the controller you can change, colour wise, there are a lot of options you can choose from resulting in many different looking controllers. Microsoft has allowed people to save their creations too, so you can make more than one and finally order the one that you really want too. You can also view others designs as well, which might just inspire you. Regardless of how you reach your final decision though, with a simple save and then order, you can purchase your custom controller. During the final phase you can also add your GamerTag, or a 14-character message/saying, via laser etching, but that is an extra cost ($14.99 here in Canada).

So that leads me to the whole "is it worth it?" discussion. The cost for making a controller on the Xbox Design Lab is $99.99 (CDN) with shipping included, and add the $14.99 if you want your GamerTag or message/saying laser etched. A regular plain Jane Xbox One S controller will cost $74.99 (CDN) when in stores. And one more comparison, the new Gears of War 4 Xbox One S controllers, with special graphics and designs, are available for pre-order at a cost of $84.99 (CDN). So, now with that in mind, is the Xbox Design Lab controller a good value?

Well, you are getting a custom designed controller that is made by Microsoft in their production facilities, and not a third party controller. I am not saying third party products are garbage, but Microsoft is making you a new Xbox One S controller that you designed, and it comes with a first party warranty too. It is the newest generation of the Xbox One controllers and has been redesigned with improvements in the thumb sticks, it's Bluetooth compatible (you can play on PC without USB adapter), it has increased range, and it is textured on the back for better grip. And of course it comes in the colours you chose, and you configured. So that is pretty cool too. So in many ways, the extra $25.00 (CDN) isn't that bad for something that is personalized and is first party. That being said, it won't be for everyone as it does cost extra money to buy, and not everyone may have the extra cash sitting around, but that doesn't make the Xbox Lab Design controller a waste of money.

In many ways I applaud Microsoft for the Xbox Design Lab, as it truly does offer the Xbox fan a choice for something they can call their own. Sure, it's not the cheapest controller out there, but given you are designing something that you wanted in a pattern of colours you chose, it's kind of cool, and of course it's made by Microsoft and backed by their first party warranty and support. As I mentioned, not everyone may have the money to design a controller, but hey, you may want to save up and pull the pin when you do. I know my kids are pretty excited and have designed their own controllers and have started to save their pennies too. If anything, head over the Xbox Design Lab website and play around designing a controller or two, you just never know what you'll come up with.

***Disclaimer - Microsoft provided us with a code to create and order an Xbox One S controller through the Xbox Design Lab process***

Check out the whole process of designing your own Xbox One S controller, in pictures, right below:


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