Earlier this month, Microsoft unveiled their video game streaming service called Project xCloud. Aiming to bring a “console quality” gaming experience to portable devices, the service allows users to play Xbox One games on their phones using touch controls and Xbox Controllers. Incidentally, Microsoft Research papers discovered by Windows Central reveal that the company has created a prototype for an Xbox controller designed especially smartphones and tablets.
Tagged a “versatile controller for mobile gaming”, the prototype images reveal two halves of a controller coupled with a charging dock, similar to the Nintendo Switch. The two halves of the controller can be split and attached to a smartphone or a tablet. Similar to its console counterpart, the prototype mobile controller features trigger and bumper controls located on the underside of the controller.
Reportedly, these renders are old as 2014, but the research papers were shared by Microsoft only recently, probably due to the success of the Nintendo Switch. “As smartphones and tablets have become pervasive, so has mobile gaming. Not surprisingly, popular games for these platforms are focused on touchscreen-based interaction. However, many types of game are less well-suited to mobile devices,” states the paper.
The research papers also show three different slide-in grip styles that can be used to increase user comfort. During single-handed mode, such as during VR games, one half of the controller can be equipped with a large grip for a better and more comfortable gaming experience. The USB controller charging dock is connected using a Type C cable.
“Mobile gaming devices like the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo’s DS and Switch are dedicated mobile gaming platforms which overcome these limitations via physical controls. The success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls.”
Although Project xCloud can be used with touch controls and Xbox controllers connected via Bluetooth, it seems Microsoft intends to provide an alternate option that is both more comfortable and easy to use.