Microsoft may appear to be a straight-laced, po-faced corporation, but that didn’t stop designers working on the new control pad for the Xbox One console in experimenting with all sorts of new and strange features. In fact, the research and development team even produced a prototype pad that was going to emit specific smells, intended to tie-in with gameplay.
Eurogamer have reported that – in conversation with Zulfi Alam, Xbox’s general manager for accessories – the experimental controller design would take special cartridges, depending on the title, that would then pump out smells to the player, which would reflect what was happening on-screen. The example given was that the smells of trees and other plants might be used in a Jungle section, to further immerse the player.
Other ideas that were played around with were; including speakers in the pad a’la the Wii Remote, a second screen like the Wii U Gamepad and a touch-sensitive area as seen on the Sony Dual Shock 4. They even tried to fit a mini-projector into the accessory – which would have worked in a similar way to Microsoft’s illumiroom technology.
All of these were abandoned after extensive consumer testing, and it was decided that the more gimmicky that the pad got, the more it took away from the simple immersion of playing a game. So unfortunately we won’t get the chance to smell a sweaty Lionel Messi, or the blood on a battlefield in Ancient Rome – not yet, anyway.