Microsoft to block third-party controllers and accessories on XBox

Originally published at: Microsoft to block third-party controllers and accessories on XBox | Boing Boing

I’m seeing a lot of the the disabled gamer community getting worried about this, especially people who need custom controllers to play even the simplest games.


That was my first thought, too: what happens to custom accessibility devices?

The ADA is a very powerful law, and I think Microsoft is in for a world of major financial penalties when they disenfranchise the disabled community. And they’ll have to restore the devices anyway, or keep paying the fines.

This is really short-sighted.


MS is so fucking short sighted with this wall garden BS. Even Sony isn’t that dumb (knock on wood).


Should XBox be played also only on certain monitors? Does a substandard refresh rate not ruin the game experience? What about using shitty speakers? Could room lighting also impact the enjoyment?
I mean… please forgive us for not using the absolutely best of the best while playing your perfect game… we have insulted you with our less-than-adequate controllers… the shame we feel.

A simple disclaimer that using non-MS sticks could impact your gameplay. Done, why bring down such a big hammer?

Unless… money is the motivator here? Could it be?

Joysticks are the new inkjet cartridges it seems.


Careful…there’s an executive somewhere who just perked up at the thought of controllers which brick after a set amount of button pushes until you buy a recharged pusher-pack.


I think they may be trying to deal with “cheat controllers” that feature extra buttons for rapid fire or automatic sniper mode. Or maybe those that support their own macros that let you define a sequence where you push one button to open your backpack, take out the BFG-9000, and automatically reload it.


If that’s how you want to play the game, why is it a problem? If the issue is online multiplayer, there’s no reason a controller couldn’t be blocked only in that circumstance, but not in others.


I realize I’m going to sound like a Microsoft fan-person or apologist (I swear, I’m neither)…

A big driver on this is there are a lot of “unlicensed” devices that allows gamers to cheat. Consoles historically were mostly “safe” from this, because cheating relied on software that was impossible/impractical.

Now there are devices that give you a variety of advantages- and I’m not talking ye old NES “turbo” button. You’ll see Cronus or Xim talked about most often because of the easy availability, but there are plenty of other input devices that do more and worse.

Accessibility is definitely a concern here- the same thing that allows one to cheat can also allow others to simply participate. There is an argument, albeit usually a straw man, that things like Cronus are vital to accessible gaming.

This is where hardware partner programs like this can come in to play- Microsoft (and Sony) both have systems in place for adaptive/accessible hardware. Forcing manufacturers to become partners is a way to keep out cheat devices that pretend to offer accessibility.


How are they doing on the PS4? I’ve seen there is a robust aftermarket. I have been thinking of getting a different controller with paddles for more buttons.

Why is it Microsoft’s business how I choose to enjoy the games I’ve paid for? If I want to “cheat” in a game I’m playing, it’s MY business.


The issue is, as you pointed out above, online multiplayer. As you suggest, perhaps it could be limited to blocking for online multiplayer, but that’s a bad look and a bad experience, IMO.

“Hey, your controlleramabob that you’re super comfortable with and use for all your gaming isn’t allowed to play 60% of the titles out today, sorry!”

It seems like a flat out ban makes the most sense, to me at least.

What we don’t know (or at least I don’t know) is how much it actually costs to become a Microsoft Partner. It may not be particularly cost prohibitive, and all this is much adieu about nothing.


I suspect that MS will point to their “Adaptive Controller” which is designed to be an interface between arbitrary accessibility peripherals and the Xbox.

Of course the existence of exactly this(plus ad-hoc equivalents produced by hacking off the buttons of standard controllers and replacing them with whatever) undermines the whole ‘integrity of the gaming experience’ argument: if you pay the hundred bucks, or DIY it out of the guts of a used controller off eBay, whatever cheat-widget you want can have a 100% authorized interface that looks exactly like an MS-blessed controller from the software side(because it is); but if you want to save some money or get better joysticks from a 3rd party who isn’t paying the tithe than screw you.

Seems like a high-handed anticompetitive move that will have minimal impact on targets people might agree with; but plenty of side effects.


It’s Microsoft’s factory default setting. Either someone reset it, or their institutional memory needs a new coin battery.

I suppose that they’ll be using that DMCA clause to stop anyone from making “Microsoft” controllers.


This is what I’m interested to see. Scuf and others made a healthy living for years “remanufacturing” controllers.

The truth is, that even if they were to go as far as to adopt an mFI type chip scheme, all of that can be cloned. And if they are just relying on things like a UDID, a cheat hardware manufacturer isn’t going to miss a beat just copying a legit one.

I sincerely hope it helps with cheating, but TBH it seems like a small bandaid to a much larger problem that won’t change much.


Let me expand on the point he was making

Microsoft’s gaming biz makes it’s money off of software sales and not so much on hardware sales all that much. They have sold their consoles at a loss the past few generations. Software sales and other things like microtransactions, dlc and services are how they make money on gaming. Cheaters come along ruining the fun of competitive games, said games lose players, players engage less with the games which in turn hurts Microsoft and game publishers/developers.

For example look at what happened with The Cycle: Frontier. An multiplayer extraction shooter game where players can go into an open world to gather things and retrieve items from it to take into future games. It wasn’t so much the wildlife that was the danger but the folks who love to steal an player’s hours long work by ambushing them and taking all of their stuff. A relatively smallish studio (around 150 folks) were swamped by the game’s massive cheater problem. Player engagement fell through the floor at an important time in the game’s history. That game was shut down last month. If they didn’t encounter that problem, the game might have had a chance to still be running today.


Jade Rabbit avatar? This person knows the pain.

Agreed- a lot of very promising titles get destroyed by toxic lobbies filled with cheaters before they have a chance to really establish a player base.

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Yup, there was a solid two or so years folks where terrified of Trials on PC. Bungie had to eventually put in into paid content, get new anti cheat, go after Cronus Zen (for console) and crack down on quote on quote “paid services”. A lot of time in courtrooms and money burned trying to go after cheaters.

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isn’t that called hdmi and hdcp?