Last year, we reported on Microsoft internal development of a special Xbox controller for its Project xCloud platform. New reports suggest work on that prototype Xbox controller is continuing. A Microsoft Research paper says Nintendo’s control system with the Switch showed how mobile gaming can improve with physical controls.

That’s the whole point of Microsoft’s controller development. If you’re out of the loop, Project xCloud is a cloud gaming platform. It allows users to access and play Xbox One games on any device, including tablets and smartphones. That’s possible because all the performance resources are handled by Microsoft through cloud servers.

For its special controller, the company is working on a detachable gamepad that connects to either portrait sides of a handheld device. While previous reports of this product were speculation, Microsoft has now filed a patent.

As usual, patents don’t mean we will eventually see the product, but it seems likely considering xCloud is launching later this year.

The prototype comes with three separate parts:

  • Two controller pieces that have triggers and bumpers on the back
  • Three different slide-in grips to make the two controller pieces look and feel like a real Xbox controller
  • A USB dock for charging the two halves of the controller

Coming Soon

Microsoft confirmed at E3 2019 that Project xCloud will launch in 2019. The company says the platform “has the technical capability to stream more than 3,500 games” without developers changing their content.

Some major developers are already testing xCloud, including Capcom.

“We’ve already deployed our custom Project xCloud blades to datacenters across 13 Azure regions with an initial emphasis on proximity to key game development centers in North America, Asia and Europe,” explains Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s cloud gaming chief.