If you’re a PC gamer who’s impressed by Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One controller—knurled thumbsticks and all—there’s good news and bad news.
Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One controller will work on PCs. Unfortunately, compatibility won’t be ready until some time in 2014. (The Xbox One itself debuts in November.)
The new controller is a complete architectural change from the current Xbox 360 controller. It uses a new wireless protocol, and it has a Micro-USB output for battery-free use. According to CVG, all those changes need to be written and optimized for PC; they’re necessary to ensure that older games designed for the Xbox 360 controller still work on its successor.
“We know people want to use the Xbox One controller on their PC, and we do too—we expect to have the functionality available in 2014,” a Microsoft representative told CVG.
It’s unclear exactly how compatibility will work, but if it allows Xbox One owners to use their existing controllers on a PC without buying extra accessories, it’ll be a major improvement over the Xbox 360.
The Xbox 360 wireless controller only works on a PC if you buy a special wireless receiver, originally priced at $25 but now available for about $13. Wired Xbox 360 controllers do work on a PC without any extra accessories, but these controllers are sold separately from the console. In other words, if you buy an Xbox 360, there’s no way to use that controller on a PC without making an extra purchase.
The Xbox One comes with a Micro-USB cable, which connects to the console for wired use. It seems likely that the Xbox One controller will at least work on your PC through that wired connection, but we’ve reached out to Microsoft for clarification. With any luck, PC compatibility will be a nice bonus for gamers who don’t play exclusively on consoles.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.