By now it’s pretty obvious hat Microsoft’s upcoming console, the Xbox Series X, might have a wee bit of a next-generation exclusive launch game problem. That aside though, the company wants you to know that when it comes to the accessory game, Xbox has it on lock, both now and well into the future.
Early this morning via Xbox Wire Microsoft revealed a refresh of it’s “Designed for Xbox” accessory program to the public, outlining a trio of announcements intended to appeal not only to the existing Xbox base but also value-conscious consumers that might still be on the fence about buying a current or next-gen Xbox console and related peripherals. To begin, Microsoft tripled-down on its consumer-friendly, “no-console-gamer-left-behind” mantra by reaffirming that any officially-licensed Xbox One accessory that connects to the console wired or wirelessly via USB or to an Xbox One wireless controller via a 3.5mm port will work on Xbox Series X, effectively promising that the vast majority of gaming headsets, third party controllers, flight sticks, joysticks and other key accessories on the market or in use by Xbox One gamers today will work on Xbox Series X when it launches in November. As the Series X will not have an optical-out port, wireless headsets featuring bases that connect via optical cable, soundbars that connect via optical and other optical cable-dependent headsets will require other solutions if their firmware cannot be updated to work via USB, but this issue has been a known quantity since Windows Central confirmed the lack of an S/PDIF port on the back of the Series X last March.
Reassurances of “Continuous Compatibility” are hardly surprising to most seasoned Xbox gamers, as Microsoft has been touting the line “your Xbox One gaming accessories (will) also come forward with you” since February, and during the previous console generation transition from Xbox 360 to Xbox One, the company was quite aggressive in its support for previous-generation wireless headsets on Xbox One, although the OS updates and adapters required to make that happen for most gamers were much slower in coming. In any event, today’s reaffirmation of Microsoft’s earlier promises appears to send a clear message that Xbox gamers that own peripherals meeting the above criteria can rest easy knowing they will work on the Series X when it launches, and those that purchase a similar accessory in advance of the console’s launch won’t end up like the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
The second announcement was the unveiling of a new “Designed for Xbox” badge that will appear across all partner accessories moving forward, discarding the plainer and easily overlooked label that was being used previously. Based on the image sample provided by Xbox, the badge will be much larger and more prominent on the packaging, giving it a “Nintendo Seal of Quality”-like authenticity. Thankfully, the label applies to accessories, not games, and hence won’t be replacing the now infamous “Optimized for Series X” sticker that at one time threatened to obscure all future Xbox game box art as we know it.
Finally, in a flourish usually reserved for presenting the list of third-party publishers during a new console reveal, Microsoft announced its Designed for Xbox partnership with over 34 gaming brands, including several new and/or lesser-known companies in the game console accessory space that specialize in new areas of growth for the hobby, including “accessibility, PC , Cloud Gaming and even American Girl” (yes, as in the doll line from Mattel). With names like Bang & Olufsen, Audeze, Honeycomb Aeronautical, Nacon, Otterbox, and Geek Made Designs joining the likes of Astro, Scuf Gaming, HORI, and many more in the creation of products as diverse surround sound headsets to solid wood furniture for your consoles and controllers, it’s clear that Microsoft is not messing around when it comes to options.
The latest lineup of Xbox accessories for Canadian customers can be found at www.xbox.com/en-CA/accessories.