Later this month, the Xbox Series X/S will see a massive change that 99% of users won’t notice. Nevertheless, there is a risk that players with niche hardware will be left in the lurch.
It all started when users noticed a new error code while using third-party accessories. As first reported by Windows Central. This error message informs those affected that as of November 12th, everything they have connected will no longer work on the console. “Using unauthorized accessories will affect your gaming experience. For this reason, the use of the unauthorized accessories will be blocked on November 12, 2023.”
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Windows Central also reached out to sources who told them, “This may be related to Microsoft expanding its program for approved third-party wireless Xbox controllers. Most third-party Xbox controllers are currently wired.” In a statement to Gamesindustry.biz, a Microsoft spokesperson said the following: “The accessories from Microsoft and other licensed Xbox hardware partners are designed and manufactured with quality standards for performance, safety and security. “
“Unauthorized accessories may disrupt the gaming experience on Xbox consoles (Xbox One, Xbox Series gaming experience. For a complete list of accessories supported on Xbox consoles, please visit www.xbox.com/accessories.
Let’s break this down. First of all, what’s the deal with preserving the gaming experience? The most obvious reason for blocking unauthorized accessories is the existence of fraud devices. This is not a new problem. FPS gamers may be familiar with products like the Chronus Zen, which allows players to modify attached controllers and add input scripts that make it easier to kill other players. This isn’t just an FPS issue either! Take Tool Assisted – a legendary Street Fighter player who used programmable controllers to perform endless combos and instant supers.
There’s also the argument that it protects gamers who happen to buy a worn-out, low-quality third-party controller. Because if only approved products work, you can’t really sell inferior devices that bite users in the ass, right?
With these lines Microsoft justifies this step. However, these ignore users who do not harm anyone with their accessories and do not risk ruining their own “gaming experience”. Fighting game players have been using third-party adapters for years to use their personal arcade stick on various consoles. Being able to use a (usually expensive) controller for PlayStation, Xbox and PC is extremely convenient, especially for tournament players. With this change, they will either have to buy a whole new controller or forego the console altogether. As you can imagine, this news was not well received.
A similar issue also exists for racing simulator players who may use a Drivehub adapter so they can use an expensive controller across all platforms. Flight sticks, custom controllers for the tech savvy… All potentially useless unless a workaround is found.
As for why, we have to go back to Windows Central sources. If their claims are true, Microsoft is expanding the licensed accessories to include wireless controllers. Therefore, this error code could be used to prevent unfair wireless devices from ruining multiplayer games.
Whether Microsoft will back down on this remains to be seen, but it is highly unlikely. Even though there is currently a lot of excitement about this topic, it is by nature a niche topic. The number of people out there using third-party controllers is tiny compared to the user base of official products. Given the opportunity to sell wireless accessories, it makes financial sense to do so. After all, you can always buy a new racing bike, right?
What may be interesting – and something that isn’t discussed too often at the moment – is how this might impact countries that are largely unsupported by Microsoft. Pakistan, for example – a country now with a notoriously passionate Tekken scene – doesn’t have the luxury of buying directly from Microsoft without paying absurd fees. Countries like this still live and die by third-party hardware. How this might affect them remains to be seen.
All in all, it’s a sad note on an otherwise understandable decision. Yes, this change will remain a pure gaming experience for many, but it will leave some in the dust. You have to ask yourself: Who is Microsoft to tell people who aren’t hurting anyone what their gaming experience should be like?