It looks like Microsoft is investigating into control schemes for mobile gaming, specifically for use with smart devices, and most likely in support of their streaming service Project XCloud.
In research papers published by WindowsCentral, you can see what Microsoft Research is looking to iterate upon. The concept designs showcase a smaller Xbox controller that can be slotted together like the Switch’s Joy-Cons but also used on their own, attaching to tablets or phone screens to give you a console feel with a smartphone device.
Even the grips that we are used to on a typical Xbox controller would be detachable to add versatility and come in different sizes to fit the needs of users with varying hand sizes.
Further, it appears the company is thinking about the VR capabilities of these controllers too, as it is mentioned that one controller piece could be removed from the dock for “single-handed use”, specifically dealing with “virtual or augmented reality.”
This research was conducted way back in 2014, but with the advent of the Switch and it’s gargantuan success, I’m sure Microsoft will attempt to wade into the market with its own portable solution. Microsoft state in the research that they want to deal with the “bulky and inflexible” smart device controllers currently on the market, which would be a welcome innovation in the field.
Here’s hoping we hear more about this particularly interesting concept in the near future. Could Microsoft take on the Switch? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.