If you enjoy playing games on an Xbox, you may have noticed Xbox controllers are not always cheap.
Unfortunately, Xbox controllers have increased in price throughout the years.
Of course, playing the most exciting new games does come with some cost.
But long-time gamers who want to stay on top of the latest technology might lament the cost of buying a new Xbox controller.
So, what makes Xbox controllers so expensive, anyway?
Why Are Xbox Controllers So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Costly Materials
The materials used to make Xbox controllers can come at a high cost.
This is one of the most obvious reasons for the upward trend in the cost of controllers for game systems like Xbox.
Manufacturers want gaming controllers to be top-notch, which means using high-quality materials for production.
Unfortunately, the adage that you get what you pay for sometimes rings true when it comes to material costs.
There is always a markup when it comes to commercial products.
That is how companies profit.
But when the materials are higher quality and possibly more costly, this also makes the product more expensive.
So, to achieve the best profit margin, Xbox must compensate by upping the price of controllers.
Materials used to make an Xbox controller include circuit boards, metal, rubber, plastics, buttons, and motors that produce a rumble effect.
These are not the only components of an Xbox controller— a lot of creativity goes into the design as well.
So understandably, there can be high costs for designing, testing, and refining these devices.
Companies like Microsoft want to make a profit—of course, that’s why they are in business.
This means they must charge enough to offset the costs of production and turn a profit.
This is especially true of controllers like the Xbox Elite, which involve more custom components.
Not only that, but the rising costs of labor and materials influence the higher cost of Xbox controllers.
This leads to another reason why the controllers are so expensive.
Gaming technology is a field filled with creativity and innovation.
From the people who create and produce the games to those who design the characters, there is tons of work involved.
Designing controllers is just one aspect of the video game industry.
With all the moving pieces that go into improving and testing game controller technology, things can get expensive.
First, coming up with a new console design is a big investment.
You need to pay an entire team to brainstorm ways to enhance or change the current model.
Once the team establishes a new design, that is just the beginning.
The controller then needs to undergo live testing in focus groups to see how it performs.
Depending on the focus group’s input, the producer may then have to make huge changes to the design.
They must consider what users are asking them to change or improve.
On top of better functionality, the console also must look good.
It’s not just about the bells and whistles—you want a product that looks appealing on the shelf.
An Xbox controller must be ergonomic as well.
This whole process can result in some back-and-forth adjustments until the new design does everything desired.
3. Complex Technology
Along the lines of innovation, Xbox controllers boast complex features that make them more expensive.
To provide an awesome gaming experience, these controllers have many intricacies and details beneath their plastic exteriors.
Most controllers are built with many different components.
For example, Xbox controllers feature two joysticks, a power button, a circuit board, action buttons, trigger buttons, menu buttons, a battery, and a charging port.
The front of the Xbox One controller contains a left and right joystick, a 3.5-millimeter port, a view button, left and right bumpers, an expansion port, X, Y, A, and B buttons, Xbox and menu buttons, a directional pad (d-pad), and a USB charging port.
The back of the controller also has left and right bumpers and triggers, an IR window, a battery cover, and a USB port.
Another complexity is that many Xbox controllers have wireless capabilities.
For instance, wired Xbox controllers are still available, but some people prefer the advantages of being untethered.
So now, many Xbox controllers are wireless and also have Bluetooth.
Wired controllers are often less expensive than wireless ones.
However, some people may have concerns about lag when using a wireless controller.
Lag is not always the fault of the wireless controller and can be caused by many other factors.
In fact, lag is not usually an issue for most people who use a wireless controller.
Additionally, some people may hate contending with physical wires and having to hook everything up, whereas others don’t like worrying about battery life with a wireless controller.
When it comes to choosing wired or wireless, it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
But the advances in technology that enable Xbox controllers to be wireless can make them more expensive.
All the complex components of a controller, like Bluetooth for some, are vital to the console’s functionality and unique features.
All parts of the controller have been carefully designed and placed.
This is important because it enables them to handle loads of data and communicate with various devices.
This is just one more reason Xbox controllers are so expensive.
4. Third-Party Or First-Party
The controller cost can also depend on which company made the one you are using.
For example, some controllers are first-party, while others are third-party.
First-party controllers are simply controllers made by the same company, such as Sony or Xbox.
In contrast, third-party controllers are made by a separate company, such as SCUF or Turtle Beach.
First-party controllers have some advantages.
Since they were put out by the same company that made the console, they are always compatible with it.
They work seamlessly with the console, which the first-party company also made.
First-party controllers don’t always come with enhancements and extra features, so they can actually cost less.
Many third-party controllers come enhanced with unique special features to give you an edge in gaming.
For instance, SCUF controllers are more highly-priced because they are designed to enhance your gaming experience and have features many other controllers do not.
So, even though you may pay more for them, third-party controllers might hold value for you depending on how you want to play.
5. Long Battery Life
There are few things as annoying as sitting down to unwind and dig into your favorite game only to find your controller is dead.
Ideally, you want the charge to last as long as possible on your Xbox controller.
Luckily, the battery charge on an Xbox controller lasts for around 40 hours of playtime.
This can vary to some degree depending on which company made your controller (whether it is first-party or third-party).
However, Xbox controllers typically allow you to play for a longer time before having to charge them than competitors’ controllers allow.
Compared to other controllers such as a PS4, Xbox controllers have longer battery life.
6. High Demand
No matter what product you are dealing with, a higher demand equates to a higher cost.
So as more people want to buy an item, manufacturers can charge higher prices.
On top of that, the supply of the product may be lacking.
This is often the case with Xbox controllers.
A lot of times, they are sold out.
This could be because they offer a great user experience and are quite reliable.
Xbox One controllers have a history of being in short supply due to their unanticipated popularity.
Microsoft failed to produce enough controllers to meet the sudden demand of the market, which contributed to higher controller costs.
On top of this, the global pandemic may have affected the demand, supply, or cost of Xbox controllers.
During the pandemic, many supply chains were negatively affected.
It’s possible that the pandemic could have driven up the cost of Xbox controllers if it decreased the available supply.
When the world shut down, gaming expos like the E3 Trade Show couldn’t happen.
This could have caused setbacks for the gaming industry as trade shows are where they showcase new controllers.
The E3 Trade Show is normally a chance for gaming companies to create hype and give updates on their latest products, but the pandemic stopped people from gathering in such large groups for a long time.
Of course, the lack of exposure at gaming expos may lead to less demand if consumers aren’t aware of the product.
The pandemic may have also affected the import of controllers manufactured overseas.
In addition, many people turned to activities like gaming when the world had to spend much of its time at home on lockdown.
The pandemic made it necessary to avoid large groups and a lot of public spaces.
Socially distanced activities, like Xbox gaming, helped us stay connected and entertained.
This may have driven up demand for games and controllers, making them more expensive.
Game controllers and their design are heavily patented.
This means that not just anyone can try to replicate and sell them.
The main producers of controllers are Sony and Microsoft.
When there is little competition in any given market, it causes an increase in cost.
Much like supply and demand, a manufacturer can name nearly any price if there are no cheaper alternatives.
That being said, standard Xbox controllers can be a good value considering their versatility and the gaming experience they provide.
Again, some Xbox controllers cost around $40.
The Xbox Elite or more customized controllers are the ones that wind up being even more expensive.
8. Some Xbox Controllers Are More Specialized Or Advanced Than Others
Cutting-edge features may also contribute to the high cost of Xbox controllers.
They boast a robust joystick response and a quick response time.
Even the standard stock wireless controller provides a high level of comfort and versatility.
Xbox controllers are all made with the competitive gamer in mind.
However, they do come in several varieties, some more expensive than others.
For example, the Xbox Elite controllers cost more than some of their counterparts.
This is due to unique features built into these controllers.
The Xbox Elite comes equipped with multiple grip options, adjustable triggers, and the ability to customize your button layout.
The average person might not need all the extra fancy features, but for hardcore gamers, a device like the Xbox Elite could be a worthwhile purchase, despite its higher cost.
Specialized controllers are also more expensive because, again, it takes an investment of time and money to develop them.
For instance, there is an Xbox Elite 1 controller and the newer Xbox Elite 2.
The Xbox Elite 2 came with all the benefits of the Xbox Elite 1, except it had more customization options and more refined elements.
The Xbox Elite 2 has a rubberized grip, whereas some controllers are just plastic.
Not only does it feel more substantial, but it might be more comfortable and steadier for some players.
The controller allows the player to aim better and fire even faster.
Another plus is that the Xbox Elite 2 is highly customizable to the player’s preferences.
Its innovative design includes more than 30 new ways to play.
The thumbstick and paddle shapes can be interchanged, and players can save multiple profiles on the device.
The Elite 2 lets you map voice commands and holds around 40 hours of battery life.
So, if you are a serious gamer who wants limitless options, it may be worth the cost to get an Elite controller.
9. Easy To Use
Xbox One controllers work seamlessly with a Windows PC without any extra hassle or software.
All you need to connect the devices are Windows and a micro-USB or a wireless controller adaptor.
If you are a Linux or Mac user, there are ways to use an Xbox controller, but more legwork is required.
However, if both the computer and controller have Bluetooth, it is even easier, making it a simple matter of pairing the two.
A mouse and keyboard have been the more traditional choice for PC gaming, but some games may be better with a controller.
The Xbox controller allows for greater accuracy in more fast-paced games.
But in some cases, such as when the game involves more strategy, a mouse and keyboard work better.
10. Special Features
As we have seen, more advanced Xbox controllers naturally cost more money.
Aside from this, Xbox controllers come in several different varieties, to begin with.
Some are enhanced, some are wireless, some still have wires, and some are special limited editions or anniversary editions.
Some are adaptive, and some come in special designs or colors.
Xbox controllers can sit at a wide range of price points, from 30-some dollars to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the device.
Of course, if you are a serious gamer and want the best device money can buy, you may want to try the Xbox Elite or one of the third-party enhanced controllers on the market.
Additionally, Xbox controllers come with several desirable features that can make them expensive.
For instance, the size and shape of Xbox controllers makes them an ideal choice for people with smaller-sized hands.
This could be a disadvantage for people with bigger hand sizes.
For younger players or people with small-to-medium hands, using an Xbox controller could be a more comfortable gaming experience.
Xbox controllers also have a headphone jack.
This is an advantage, especially if you are in a small space with other people who might not want to hear your game.
If you share a wall with neighbors and worry about disturbing anyone, you likely want the option to plug in headphones.
A headphone jack empowers you to turn the volume up as loud as you want for a truly immersive experience.
As we have seen, wireless Xbox controllers have Bluetooth.
This is a useful feature because it allows you to use the controller with your phone, computer, or Apple TV for Xbox iCloud gaming.
Bluetooth capability means you can take your game with you wherever you go without worrying about taking the time to transfer data.
Xbox Controllers Are A Good Buy For Some
The bottom line is that some Xbox controllers have gotten more expensive through the years.
However, they feature sophisticated technology and are very comfortable to use.
This is because Xbox controllers come from several generations of gaming and refinement.
There Are Xbox Controllers For A Wide Range Of Budgets
It’s worth noting that not all Xbox controllers are super expensive.
They range in price from around $30 to $200 or more, depending on the model and customization.
Choosing whether to buy an Xbox controller is a highly individual decision.
Additionally, you must consider which controller to purchase.
Do you want a controller that allows for intense customization and the latest technology in gaming?
Or would you be content to own a controller more suited to casual gaming?
Only you can decide.
But for thousands of gamers, Xbox controllers provide exactly what they want.