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Is a Duracell deal why Xbox Series X controller still takes AA batteries? No

A strange story emerging earlier this week claimed to lift the lid on why Microsoft still provides an AA battery pack for the new Xbox controllers in the year of our Lord 2021.

A Duracell UK executive seemed to suggest Microsoft was compelled to include the AA option in its wireless controllers, due to a long running deal with the battery maker.

UK marketing manager Luke Anderson told Stealth Optional: “There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox… It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place.”

“[The deal is] for OEM to supply the battery product for the Xbox consoles and also the controllers’ battery. So that [deal is] going to go on for a while… it’s been going on for a while and I think it needs to go for a while [more].”

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Many then put two-and-two together and got five, theorising this was the reason Microsoft continued to support the so-last-century power source. If a company like Microsoft still designing a major product around a deal with a battery maker sounds somewhat off the mark to you, that’s because it is.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Eurogamer said: “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 in to the console or PC.”

It is somewhat surprising that Microsoft hasn’t resorted to built-in batteries for its controllers that are charged directly via the console. Jason Rowland, the Xbox partner director of program management told Digital Foundry (via The Verge) that a “large chunk of Xbox owners” still preferred batteries, environmental concerns be damned.

He says: “What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarising and there is a strong camp that really want AAs. So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.”