Microsoft Denies Xbox/Duracell Rumor

Posted on January 8, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox with 21 Comments

Microsoft denied a rumor claiming that Xbox controllers still come with Duracell AA batteries because of a “constant agreement” with that firm. I had decided not to report on the original rumor because it seemed unlikely if not completely bogus.

Yesterday, a random tech blog reported that Microsoft has stuck with old-school AA batteries in its Xbox controllers for over 15 years because of a “constant agreement” with battery maker Duracell. Meanwhile, its competition has been using more modern rechargeable internal batteries instead.

“There’s always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox,” a Duracell marketing manager in the UK told the blog. “It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place. [The deal is] for [partners] 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].”

Not true, says Microsoft.

“We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers,” a Microsoft statement says, correcting the bogus report. “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.”

Microsoft had previously explained its continued use of AA batteries as it moved from Xbox 360, the first Xbox console with wireless controllers, to Xbox One and now Xbox Series X|S as a way to please everyone, since some gamers apparently still very much want to use the old-fashioned batteries for some reason. But come on: This is about cost. Microsoft bundles AA batteries with its controllers, and also its consoles, to save money. It then sells rechargeable batteries and packs to customers separately.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Microsoft Denies Xbox/Duracell Rumor”

  1. colin79666

    It has its benefits though. At least this way you can use standard rechargeable batteries and user replace them when they fail. How many Switch or PS5 controllers are still going to work in 15-20 years when we are calling them retro machines?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I mean, the controllers could still come with a rechargeable battery pack. :)
      • colin79666

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Yep that would be the best of both worlds. Handy if it can still take non proprietary batteries too both for long term product life and for those times you pick the controller up and it is dead. In the old days the cable was fine as you sat within a few feet of your 14" TV but now most people probably do more lean back gaming on a monster 4k panel across the room where a trailing cable isn't so clever.

  2. winner

    Duracell AA batteries, Home Edition, with Duracell Update and Duracell Defender.

  3. doubledeej

    For the occasional gamer like myself, alkaline batteries are the better choice. I tried using rechargeable batteries for a while, but every time I went to play the batteries would be dead. It’s far easier to swap out alkaline batteries.

  4. Travis

    I prefer double a batteries to a rechargeable battery. I hate having to plug in my controller. Very quick to swap out batteries.

  5. red.radar

    I like the flexibility of AA. And I like the longevity/sustainability to the controller that AA offers. Years from now I can still buy AA batteries to get it to work. But finding a custom battery pack may be a little more difficult.

    I think it’s a well thought out flexible design. Those who want rechargeable batteries still have a choice through an accessory

  6. mikegalos

    The problem with rechargables and why "some gamers apparently still very much want to use the old-fashioned batteries for some reason" is that rechargables age and their performance starts failing as they get older. With new disposable batteries you can put in a new set before a competition and know what you'll get. It may not matter much when you can pause with your friends but it matters a lot when you're actually competing in eSports for real money.

  7. IanYates82

    I don't mind the current approach

    I bought a play & charge kit for one of my new controllers, and in the other I use rechargeable AA batteries

    The AA controller is actually more convenient when it's running low since I just rotate the batteries through the charger. Works well for me.

  8. big_swifty

    I have switched over as well for controllers and remotes. The only problem I have had has been with corrosion with some of the non-rechargeable batteries made by Duracell about 10 years ago.

  9. markbyrn

    Oh darn, I was hoping they might put the Duracell bunny on the battery lid.

  10. Big_Swifty

    I love the idea of replaceable batteries. I have so many devices that only have built in rechargeable batteries that are now unusable. These include keyboards, controllers, speakers, phones and music gear. I take good care of my equipment and have still functioning tech that dates back to 1983. Having the option to replace batteries means I can still get use out of these devices. I like the fact that some of the devices use watch batteries to make the devices slimmer like my new Microsoft 10 key keypad.

    • Alex Taylor

      In reply to Big_Swifty:

      Completely agree.

      Non-replaceable rechargeable batteries are terrible :the transition Logitech has made with their mice is frustrating as runtime between charges keeps getting shorter in an otherwise fine mouse.

      Having the option of replacement by the user is by far the best option.

  11. RonV42

    I use my own Eneloop AA batteries. This way a controller is never down. If there was a built in battery pack once it was depleted I would have to wait for it to charge. I like flexibility and the AA battery option provides the most flexible solution.

    How many devices that have non-replaceable rechargeable batteries stop working after two years due to the battery no longer maintaining a charge would end up in a land fill?

  12. monosoftware

    It has to be cost. It's not a huge deal though, I'll just continue to use rechargeable AAs like I do in my TV remotes and wireless mice.

  13. mog0

    I like the separation because when the rechargeable battery wears out, I replace the battery, not the whole device. Equally if the controller wears out / breaks, you can swap the battery over.

    The only time I would ever use alkaline batteries is if my rechargeable died and was waiting for a replacement but being AA compatible does at least give the option of rechargeable AAs that could be charged externally and swapped over.

    Would say they should cut the price of the controller though.

  14. beckoningeagle

    I don't think this is only because of cost. Choice matters. I am one of those gamers that prefer the AA. In fact, I waited until my original Elite Controller broke down before buying Elite 2. The sole reason was the battery.

    My kid Always forgets to put controllers in charging cradles. So my solution is to have rechargeable AA in a fast 15 minute charger. It is also cheaper and easier to find rechargeable double A than other batteries. Especially because when you buy a third party solution that comes with a special cradle that they then discontinue, you are stuck either with batteries you can't use any longer or a charger with no batteries.

    There is always something good about standards, and double A gives you choice and longevity.

    • jwpear

      In reply to BeckoningEagle:

      We do the same. I like that the battery is a standard size and I can choose whether to use a rechargeable batter or a regularly battery. If at home, we have spare rechargeable batteries ready to go. If we have the controller over at a friends house and need a charge, its easy to just pop in regular batteries. You know, because kid will not think ahead about the batteries possibly being low before heading over.

      We just had to trash a perfectly good stick vac, which is only about three years old, because you can't find or replace the rechargeable battery inside it. The manufacturer has discontinued the vac and parts. We couldn't find anything after market. This is so wasteful.

      • PanamaVet

        In reply to jwpear:

        We bought a new vacuum cleaner last year. I checked for spare parts, particularly a brush roller and could not find one for some brands. No part means no purchase. It's a five minute fix.

        I prefer rechargeable AA batteries like the ones I replace in my Norelco shaver circa 1986. Amazing.

  15. zaskar

    It's almost like planned obsolescence. I don't mind rechargable, if they can be removed. I have the Xbox elite controller, was looking at the new second edition one. But no removable battery. No thanks.