Sources have been telling us for some time that Microsoft has been working on the development of an enhanced controller for the Xbox 360. The major modifications to the design include a new improved D-Pad to address the complaints that users have had about it since release.
The star of the show with this new controller is the new D-Pad, of course, and Microsoft has apparently gone to great lengths to deal with the shortcomings that were exhibited by the previous model. The new D-Pad is able to be switched between a raised directional configuration and a traditional flatter configuration with a simple twist. Without going hands-on it is hard to know how much of an improvement it will deliver, but according to sources it is apparently a significant improvement.
The styling of the controller has also received a makeover with a new silver matte finish and gray buttons. The analog sticks have been enhanced with a more concave design and a better feel. The controller is, of course, wireless and comes with the Play & Charge Kit and has been branded by Microsoft as a Special Edition offering.
It will cost $64.99 in the U.S. and should be on retailer shelves on November 9th. It is unknown at this time if this will continue to be a standard Microsoft offering or a one-time Special Edition release, but our sources tell us that if it is popular we can likely expect it to continue to be available in one form or another.
You have to hand it to Microsoft for the way that their PR team is using the news of the new controller to change the news cycle for the Xbox 360 by nearly burying the news of Xbox Live subscriptions going up. This is slick work to use the news of the new controller to attract attention away from the subscriptions price increase yesterday. Very well done!