If there is one aspect of gaming hardware in which Microsoft beats its closest competitor Sony hands down, it’s in the wide variety and selection of its controllers. During the Xbox One console generation in particular the company built itself such a reputation for offering so many different options and variants of its controller that it recently released a video covering the over 60 official models in existence, not including of course the thousands of unique, consumer-created versions that have been sold through its Xbox Design Lab program. Microsoft also shown that it has a keen nose for what is currently trending in pop culture across gaming and/or entertainment, and occasionally releases limited edition, officially licensed controllers and controller bundles to…well, let’s not sugar coat it — cash in on that hype.
Which brings us to Microsoft’s latest experiment in pop-culture synergy, the Mandalorian Wireless Xbox Controller and Xbox Pro Charging Stand Set, which is not only a lot of words to say, it’s also a lot of scratch. It’s a controller and wireless charging stand themed after the popular Disney+ Star Wars series, and it costs a whopping $224.99 CA before tax.
To be fair, this isn’t your typical Xbox controller and Charging Stand bundle. On top of the faux-Mandalorian armor pattern “reminiscent of beskar steel”, the controller apparently features textured grips, custom button mapping and “twice the wireless range”. That said, the latter two features technically apply to ALL Xbox One controllers that have been manufactured since the launch of the Xbox One S. Button mapping can be accessed for practically any Xbox One controller via the Xbox Accessories App for Xbox and Windows 10, and the previous “wireless range” implied refers to Xbox One controllers that were sold pre-Xbox One S, so that leaves this new bundle very little to distinguish itself from the standard official Xbox One controllers and Xbox Pro Charging Stands you’ll find on store shelves. Speaking of the charging stands, all “Xbox Pro Charging Stands” feature magnetic charging, so that’s not a feature unique to this new bundle either.
Therefore, the real test of Star Wars fandom when considering this limited edition bundle is whether one’s love of all things Mandalorian or the long-term value of this product as a collector’s item is worth the abnormally high premium baked into its MSRP. One only need to look at Microsoft’s previous Star Wars-themed controller bundle, the Jedi Fallen Order-inspired Limited Edition Purge Trooper, to see how wide the pricing gap has grown, as that bundle when available sold for only $189.99 CAD at retail. At an asking price $35 CAD higher, the Mandalorian Wireless Xbox Controller & Pro Charging Stand bundle is setting a new precedent for how much consumers are expected to pay for officially licensed variants of their favorite Xbox accessories. When you consider that the total cost of your average Xbox One Controller and Pro Charging Stand purchased separately costs around $140 CAD, and that you can even pre-order an Xbox Series X / S controller and matching Pro Charging Stand from the Microsoft Store for even less than that, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the Mandalorian bundle’s $225 CAD price tag (other than Disney and Jon Favreau each demanding their own sizeable cut, perhaps).
Finally, there’s the big elephant in the room that anyone considering this impulse purchase has to at least consider for a moment: With the next-generation Xbox Series X and S consoles just over two weeks away, why would Microsoft launch a new controller bundle and demand such a high price for what is technically an outdated accessory? Yes, as we already know, all current-generation Xbox One controllers will work with the next-generation consoles, so buying a last-gen Xbox controller isn’t necessarily a horrible investment, but why do so at such a ridiculous markup, and why settle for a brand new Xbox controller that doesn’t have the new” Share” button? Or for only $5 more, why not just purchase the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, and have ALL the buttons, paddles sticks and customization you could possibly want?
I suppose if they tossed a Baby Yoda plushie in the box, it would be OK though. The Mandalorian Wireless Xbox Controller & Xbox Pro Charging Stand Set will be available on December 31st, 2020 and can be pre-ordered from the Microsoft Store.