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Microsoft Announces Controller S for North America
The original Xbox controller was a love-hate proposition. Its bulky convex design, not to mention raised buttons, threw tiny-handed gamers for a loop. Those with large paws, meanwhile, praised Microsoft for catering to a “bigger-is-better” design philosophy.
Whether an Xbox gamepad was your first line of defense against thieves in the night or your weapon of choice for slaughtering Covenant Elite, you’ve gotta hand it to Microsoft for listening to fan reaction. In this case, the company decided that releasing the Japanese controller, more lovingly referred to as “Controller S,” in North America might be a good decision after all.
Controller S sports a compact design in relation to its monstrous brother. The four face buttons were also moved inward slightly and rest on a more even plane. The black and white buttons, meanwhile, got thrown next to the right analog stick. Start and Back buttons were moved to the left-hand side of the controller, while the two triggers on the device’s underbelly were tweaked slightly.
The Duke’s—the popular name coined by gamers worldwide for the original controller—little brother initially went on sale for $39.99, and Microsoft revealed no plans to bundle the console with this smaller, sleeker controller. Eventually, the company would quietly discontinue the original controller and begin shipping Xbox consoles with a Controller S, while simultaneously slipping the new controller onto retail shelves.
The redesign also prompted gamers to ask exactly what the “S” in “Controller S” stood for.
“Well, there’s not a lot of science behind it, it’s more of an art thing,” said Microsoft’s David Hufford in an interview with GameSpy. “I think we were all in a room and thought it would be a cool name, so we just came up with it.”
Xbox Price Cut from $299 to $199
A little over six months since the November 2001 launch, and only two days after Sony cut the price of the PlayStation 2, Microsoft revealed plans to drop the Xbox MSRP from $299 to $199. This move leveled the playing field, putting the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube at a $199 price point, while helping Microsoft gain deeper market penetration.
However, as the public soon found out in the coming weeks, Microsoft would stomach most of the console’s production costs in an effort to remain competitive with Sony, who at the time sold nearly 30 million PlayStation 2 units and undeniably held the upper hand against both Nintendo and Microsoft.
In May 2003, Microsoft would slash the Xbox MSRP from $199 to $179, putting the console on equal ground with the PlayStation 2. Microsoft again cut the price of the Xbox to $149 in April 2004, this time beating Sony to the price-slashing party. Meanwhile, Nintendo, as early as holiday 2003, set the price of the GameCube at $99.