Former Xbox Director Weighs In On Xbox Series X's AA Batteries Debate

Former Xbox console marketing director Albert Penello has shared his thoughts on the hot topic of AA batteries versus internal recharegable cells for controllers. His comments came in the wake of the news that the Xbox Series X will continue to use AA batteries.

Writing on Twitter, Penello–who now works at Amazon–said the tradeoff between AA batteries and internal cells is “more complex than people think.”

“It’s a debate that’s raged for years, and there are good points on both sides. The toughest part is that it’s a binary decision–choosing one alienates the other,” he said.

Penello said he found in his customer research that AA batteries were the favored choice. Core gamers and technology enthusiasts generally wanted internal cells, but AA batteries won out in terms of public opinion overall, Penello said.

He went on to speak about some of the benefits of AA batteries specifically. “AA have very little draw when not in use, so a controller with AA can sit for longer periods of time. AA can be replaced easily mid-game when batteries die. AA can use disposable OR rechargeable cells,” Penello said. “There is no battery maintenance required with AA and batteries don’t degrade.”

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Internal cells have their own benefits, too, Penello said, including convenience and cost (as you don’t need to keep buying AA batteries again and again even if the cells themselves are more expensive for manufacturers to produce). People who stay on top of keeping their controllers charged or don’t play for extended periods of time are rarely inconvenienced, he said.

In terms of the environmental impact of AA batteries versus internal cells for controllers, Penello said it’s a wash. He said he personally prefers AA batteries because it gives him the most options, but Penello said he understands the situation is “complex and there isn’t a simple way to satisfy both sides.”

For its part, Microsoft’s Jason Ronald says the Xbox Series X is sticking with AA batteries because it gives players a choice because they can use AA batteries or a rechargeable battery pack. “What it comes down to is when actually talking to gamers, it’s kind of polarizing and there is a strong camp that really want AAs,” Ronald said. “So just giving flexibility is the way to please both [sets of] people… You can use a rechargeable battery pack and it works just like it does on the Elite, [but] it is a separate thing.”

The Xbox Series X is scheduled to release this holiday, and that’s still the plan even amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Albert Penello’s Comments On AA Versus Internal Batteries:

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