Xbox controllers still use AA batteries because of a long-standing agreement with Duracell

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,739   +664
Staff member
WTF?! When practically everything has a built-in rechargeable battery these days, it is somewhat odd that the Xbox Series X|S controllers are powered by two AA batteries. Microsoft does have an Xbox rechargeable battery pack users can buy separately, and the Xbox Elite Wireless 2 sports an internal power cell. However, the standard gamepads have come with replaceable batteries since going wireless with the Xbox 360. Why?

According to remarks made in a recent interview with a Duracell executive, Xbox controllers always come with replaceable batteries due to a long-term deal between Microsoft and the "Copper-Top" company. Duracell UK's Marketing Manager Luke Anderson told Stealth Optional that "there's always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox."

Essentially, Duracell has agreed to provide Xbox with batteries indefinitely, presumably for the exposure it provides. The idea is that when players replace the controller's batteries, they are much more likely to replace them with the same brand. But the agreement goes beyond the controllers.

"[The deal is] for [Duracell] OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers' battery," said Anderson.

He added that this agreement has been going on for "a while" and will continue for the foreseeable future. It seems a strange claim that Microsoft would allow itself to be strapped into a long-term deal like this, considering all of its competitors use internal rechargeable batteries.

MCV Develop reached out to Microsoft for an explanation and received the following statement:

"We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers. This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged into the console or PC."

Microsoft's statement indicates that its decision to use AA batteries was "intentional," rather than being dictated by some deal. However, when pressed further, the spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether the company had or has an agreement with Duracell.

However, all the evidence points to a partnership existing. Aside from Anderson's claims and Duracell double-As being the default choice in Xbox controllers, the two companies have cross-promoted on multiple occasions, including an Duracell-branded Xbox controller and the "marriage proposal" tweet from the Copper Top's official Twitter account (above).

Image credit: quangmooo

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,812   +6,459
"Microsoft's statement indicates that its decision to use AA batteries was "intentional," rather than being dictated by some deal. However, when pressed further, the spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether the company had or has an agreement with Duracell."

Sooooo ..... if it was intentional, why hide the fact? I see too many devices going to plug in charging capabilities and while you can always get rechargeable batteries why not offer both? Sounds a bit like another one of Microsoft's "Undocumented Features" ......
 
  • Like
Reactions: 0dium

terzaerian

Posts: 273   +328
>When practically everything has a built-in rechargeable battery these days, it is somewhat odd that the Xbox Series X|S controllers are powered by two AA batteries.

Uh guys, you can buy rechargeable AAs ffs. Of all the things to roast Xbox over this is pretty much the most sensible thing going for it. 🤦‍♂️
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,739   +664
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
>When practically everything has a built-in rechargeable battery these days, it is somewhat odd that the Xbox Series X|S controllers are powered by two AA batteries.

Uh guys, you can buy rechargeable AAs ffs. Of all the things to roast Xbox over this is pretty much the most sensible thing going for it. 🤦‍♂️
Nobody is roasting Xbox. It is just curious that they have not switched to internal batteries which seem to be the norm. I find their reasoning sound in that they want to offer flexibility to users, but odd that they do not confirm they have partnered with Duracell and have for years. Again this is their business and it is probably only because they do not want to insinuate that their users have to use Duracell. The spokesperson was very clear about saying players could use replaceable batteries "from any brand."

So I don't see where you got the idea I was roasting Xbox. I was simple stating it was an odd situation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hexic

Axil00

Posts: 58   +70
I really don't care at all what Microsoft's motivation was. Any device that accepts double AAs can also accept any sort of rechargeable battery you want so long as it uses the same form factor. Why why why would I want a proprietary solution that makes maintaining my equipment more expensive?

This is like being getting a free snickers bar at every 7-11 and then being mad there is an actual contract that governs the promotion
 

terzaerian

Posts: 273   +328
Nobody is roasting Xbox. It is just curious that they have not switched to internal batteries which seem to be the norm. I find their reasoning sound in that they want to offer flexibility to users, but odd that they do not confirm they have partnered with Duracell and have for years. Again this is their business and it is probably only because they do not want to insinuate that their users have to use Duracell. The spokesperson was very clear about saying players could use replaceable batteries "from any brand."

So I don't see where you got the idea I was roasting Xbox. I was simple stating it was an odd situation.
Fair enough. I just fear that the industry always takes away the wrong lessons from media like this. I'll forgive undisclosed partnerships if they lead to more user-serviceable devices and uphold the right to repair.
 

Axil00

Posts: 58   +70
Fair enough. I just fear that the industry always takes away the wrong lessons from media like this. I'll forgive undisclosed partnerships if they lead to more user-serviceable devices and uphold the right to repair.
This certainly didn't sound like neutral coverage to me.

I dont understand the skepticism of a move being "intentional" vs determined by the contract with Duracell. Doesn't it follow that if it was Microsoft's intention to allow more user flexibility they would put together contracts that would make that more attractive financially?

When AMD or Intel launch a new product that is more powerful and energy efficient than the last generation no one feels the need to point out they are also manufacturing them as cheaply as they can. It's not a secret it's a given.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gixser

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,739   +664
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
Fair enough. I just fear that the industry always takes away the wrong lessons from media like this. I'll forgive undisclosed partnerships if they lead to more user-serviceable devices and uphold the right to repair.
Agreed. I've always found planned obsolescence annoying and greedy and built-in batteries are on the fringe of that philosophy. While internal power packs can be changed, companies generally don't make it easy for the users. This is particularly true with game controllers which are viewed by many as "disposable." I would venture that most users toss out an older controller when its battery starts failing and just buy a new one. So I applaud Microsoft for continuing to offer what is a better alternative IMO.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 273   +328
Agreed. I've always found planned obsolescence annoying and greedy and built-in batteries are on the fringe of that philosophy. While internal power packs can be changed, companies generally don't make it easy for the users. This is particularly true with game controllers which are viewed by many as "disposable." I would venture that most users toss out an older controller when it's battery starts failing and just buys a new one. So I applaude Microsoft for continuing to offer what is a better alternative IMO.
I get around that by using the same 360 controller I've had for years for those times when I need to use a controller. Those are arguably the "Model Ms" of the controller world.
 

kapital98

Posts: 336   +263
>When practically everything has a built-in rechargeable battery these days, it is somewhat odd that the Xbox Series X|S controllers are powered by two AA batteries.

Uh guys, you can buy rechargeable AAs ffs. Of all the things to roast Xbox over this is pretty much the most sensible thing going for it. 🤦‍♂️
I don't see the article as 'roasting' Xbox. The existence of AA's is weird. I own an Xbox Series S and the Core controller is good -- just like every Xbox controller. But, the AA's are a weird standout and are probably the biggest reason why I'd still take a Switch Pro or PS5 DualSense any day over the Core.

If they were truly agnostic about this, they'd add the rechargeable pack for free and give players the choice. They don't -- making it far more likely users will keep using batteries even though it costs more in the long run (I don't use the "S" that often -- so I'm sticking with AA's).
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,739   +664
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
I get around that by using the same 360 controller I've had for years for those times when I need to use a controller. Those are arguably the "Model Ms" of the controller world.
Yeah, see. They make it super easy to get your money's worth out of that controller. Sony's controllers are somewhat a pain in the butt to replace the batteries, It would be nice if you could just pop a fresh rechargeable in the back. But noooo. It requires partial disassembly. Actually did a step-by-step last spring on the process (link). The DS4 I used in that piece, I have had since 2014.
 

Axil00

Posts: 58   +70
I think the AA batteries model is better than a proprietary one, but wouldn't be better if they ship the controller with a rechargeable AA's
Maybe?

For me personally, and I suspect a large chunk of existing customers I would rather choose my own brand of battery/charger and not pay for Microsoft to include anything more costly to produce than whatever they use now.

I appreciate the fact they come with batteries so they can be used immediately, but as soon as those die, or I happen to be popping new batteries into something else they go in the trash.

That said rechargeable are so cheap now maybe it doesn't matter much. Personally if there is any additional feature I'd like included it would be the ability to accept a wireless charge, without having to find somthing that will fit into a battery pack. That's me though, I'm sure others would rather save the $5 or whatever that would add to the production cost
 

0dium

Posts: 151   +178
>When practically everything has a built-in rechargeable battery these days, it is somewhat odd that the Xbox Series X|S controllers are powered by two AA batteries.

Uh guys, you can buy rechargeable AAs ffs. Of all the things to roast Xbox over this is pretty much the most sensible thing going for it. 🤦‍♂️
For some reason mine just refused to work in x360 controllers. Did power my wiimotes just fine
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 91   +179
A built in rechargeable battery sounds great until you have to wait for it to charge. Of course there are plenty of work arounds but swapping disposable batteries within 20 seconds sound OK to me.
Not sure which one is worse, wait for the controller to charge, hence no gaming until or a quick break to swap the dead batteries for a fresh pair.

Hmmm.

Better yet, once that internal battery start dying, you will need to replace that controller, instead of simply buying some more cheap rechargeable batteries.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 0dium

Lounds

Posts: 667   +569
Personally I don't know why Duracell haven't invested heavily into battery technology, they could be the world's supplier of batteries for all car manufacturers if they wanted to.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,620   +1,921
Ok, so you are in the middle of a game, batteries die/run down. You have a choice.
A. Pause/stop the game while your batteries recharge.
B. Pop out the dead/weak batteries with new ones or recharged AA batteries.
Yeah yeah...make sure your batteries are up to speed before starting....
 
  • Like
Reactions: scavengerspc

neeyik

Posts: 1,603   +1,800
Staff member
Personally I don't know why Duracell haven't invested heavily into battery technology, they could be the world's supplier of batteries for all car manufacturers if they wanted to.
Duracell is owned by Berkshire Hathaway (a holding company that also owns a quarter of Kraft Heinz, amongst other companies) and they seem to be more interested in investing in renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass); it's possible that they've invested in battery tech too, though.

I applaud Microsoft for continuing to offer what is a better alternative IMO.
I like using rechargeable batteries, simply because it makes me feel like I'm loading up a shotgun when I slot fresh ones in :cool:
 

CrisisDog

Posts: 212   +108
I have a box full of rechargeable AA batteries. Duracell, nonetheless. I'm perfectly fine with having the ability to replace the controller batteries. I've already had to replace and entire PS3 and PS4 controller for "dead" battery issues, and was not happy about that...
 
  • Like
Reactions: terzaerian

GamerNerves

Posts: 61   +29
What's the problem since rechargeable batteries enable you to use your gamepad all the time if you have a spare pair. When internal battery runs out, that's the end of wireless and the start of wired gaming. Functionality over hipsterity I say. Using one time batteries is a no no though, if you do so, go and get a charger and rechargeable batteries immediately. Enviroment will thank you!

It stands by the way that I bought Duracell batteries for my controller :O
 
Last edited: