Review: Xbox Design Lab Process – Our Experience

Review: Xbox Design Lab Process – Our Experience

A while back, Microsoft announced the Xbox Design Lab, an option for gamers to unlock their creative freedom by specially designing Xbox One S controllers for their entertainment needs. There are millions of different designs that consumers can come up with, and we decided to give it a run. 

First, the process is simplistic from planning to purchasing. It only takes a couple of minutes to splash on your favorite colors to the design template. For our controller, we decided to go with a green base, which is vibrant and makes an impression upon opening the white box it is shipped in. We designed our controller the match our website’s theme, using the aforementioned green base with white accents to precisely match the details of our logo. I must say, it looks slick. One improvement I would like to see Microsoft roll out to the design lab though is the option for metallic colors. Giving your controller some unique shine that was present on the chrome line of Xbox 360 controllers would be fantastic. If we had the choice, we would have made the D-pad and perhaps some of the buttons shine bright (like a diamond).


There isn’t much I would change about the current process besides the metallic option. If I had to request one feature, perhaps it would be the option to choose the color of the battery door, something which defaults to the back of the controller’s color choice. The thing is, the process was so damn easy to use, that I couldn’t think of one thing I would improve on because it only took a few minutes from designing to purchasing the product. 

The build quality matches that of the Xbox One S Controllers you can buy at retail but of course, with the chosen flashy colors dependent on your gaming style. It is rather unfortunate that we couldn’t design Xbox Elite Controllers, Microsoft’s premium controller aimed towards higher-level gamers. Creating your Elite controller could mean custom paddles and specific features; perhaps this is something the Microsoft is looking into the future for, but I’m hoping something like this rolls out soon.

Now, with customizability, there will come an increased cost to it all. For us, after the engraving, we paid $114.99 CDN for the controller; a hefty price to pay for a controller that usually retails for $74.99 CDN. The engraving is what did us in though as it is a $15 charge, making a conventional customized controller without engraving sitting at a $99.99 CDN price tag. 

…the end product being vibrant and beautiful

The price tag is easier to swallow when you take in a lot of the Xbox One S Controller’s features, such as Bluetooth compatibility with Windows-based PCs and mobile devices. The controller syncs up well on both the Windows PC and Xbox One S, but can only be synced to one device at a time, just like other Xbox One controllers. 

Here is the thing: while I have some interest in seeing improvements, the actual process itself is exactly as advertised, with the end product being vibrant and beautiful. Yes, there are improvements I would make, but I can’t fault the current process for not including those. After seeing the controller designs in person at this past E3, and then again as it arrives at my door, I can’t find any faults beside the price tag. A job well done goes out to Microsoft and the team behind it, and we hope to have more of these options available to gamers in the future!

The Xbox Design Lab controllers are designed at the website here and retail for $99.99 CDN without engraving.

The Xbox Design Lab controller was built using personal funds.