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Express Your Funky Side With The Xbox Design Lab (Review)

Last month at E3, Microsoft made a number of big announcements regarding its Xbox division, including the reveal of the Xbox One S and the tease of their next generation home console, Project Scorpio, which they said will be powerful enough to outpace current consoles. But there was another announcement that was interesting: the Xbox Design Lab. This new site allows gamers to customize an Xbox One controller in any crazy combination of colors. Thankfully, Microsoft was nice enough to let us check it out, so here’s everything you need to know:

Xbox One Design Lab Mockup

The Basics

The controller you design will be the new version that comes packaged with the Xbox One S. The differences from the original controller are subtle, but they are there. For starters, the new controller includes more grip on the back where your hands rest, and the classic Xbox home button doesn’t protrude like it did before, which makes it a bit more difficult to hit. The new one also supports bluetooth for those who like to use the controller on PC and other devices. The other design changes don’t really affect the experience.

Customizing a controller on the Xbox Design Lab will set you back a pretty penny, $79.99 to be exact. That’s about $20 more than a standard Xbox One pad will cost you. There’s also an optional laser engraving that’ll add another $10 to the order. The good news: shipping is free.

Orders are now open in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico with designs being made through August delivered in early September. Orders made after this time will usually be delivered in 14 business days.

Xbox Design Lab


Now that we got that clear, what can you actually customize? First, it’s important to note that you can’t currently customize the components of the controller, nor can you use the Design Lab to create your own Xbox One Elite controller. This is strictly used to change the colors to express yourself in any way you want. With eight million color combinations available (according to Microsoft), there’s a good chance you can really create some funky looking controllers.

You can throw whatever shade you’d like on the body (from a choice of 15 colors), bumpers and triggers (15 colors), D-pad (15 colors), thumbsticks (eight colors), ABXY buttons (five colors), view and menu buttons (four colors), and back (15 colors). How you combine the choices is up to you, and can result in some gnarly looking pads.

Unfortunately, the flashiest colors available only include: lightning yellow, zest orange, deep pink, and electric green. Hopefully we’ll see zanier choices in the future, but we’ll do with what’s made available.

Feast your eyes on the finished product below!

Xbox One Controller Img

Ease of use

If you do choose to customize your controller, it’s really easy to use the Xbox Design Lab. All you do is go on the site, and follow the on-screen instructions. In total, it’ll be about seven different steps when including updating your payment and shipping information. But the actual customization portion is one step (not including the engraving), so you won’t have to worry about going back and forth between steps to experiment with the look of your product. It’s a rather pleasant experience. Best of all, the colors on the mock-up of your controller are a pretty accurate representation of the final product–it’s actually spot on. This means you’ll know exactly what to expect when tearing open the packaging.

I went with the glacier blue body, deep pink bumpers and triggers with matching thumbsticks, zesty orange D-pad along with the same splash for the back, and finally grey on white face and menu buttons as to not to detract from the flashiness of the controller. I even engraved Pablo at the bottom of the controller’s face because I’m a huge fan of Kanye West’s latest album. It came out super clean looking, and is reminiscent of candy. I chose to go with a super flashy combination to ensure I’d never see this as a general release.

Xbox One Controllers Img

The verdict

There’s no doubt that the Xbox Design Lab is a easy and incredibly fun to tinker with. The experience gets an A+, and the cherry on top is how accurate the colors are to the real deal. There’s no complaint there. Even the engraving is a sick option for those who want to show their gamertag off.

I can’t recommend that everyone go down this route, though. $80 ($90 if you add the engraving) is a whole lot of moolah for a controller that is functionally the same as one you can get for $20 cheaper. Not to mention that Microsoft has done a great job of creating some rad Xbox One controllers in a bevy of colors, and I suspect they’ll do the same with the new controller. I personally love both of my Halo 5-themed peripherals, which are both cheaper than one of these customized ones.

That said, if you have the cash and are a big gamer, having the option to create a flashy controller is sweet. Many have already done the double-take when spotting my rainbow sherbet-inspired controller. Nothing like an eye-catching piece to complete your gaming room. If that’s not your thing, you’d probably be better off using the extra $20 on a game like Inside on the Xbox One digital store.

Images: Microsoft

This review was completed using a review code provided by Microsoft. 

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