To try and spice things up and also, for a bit of a change, we decided to round up some of the worst video game controllers of all time.
Below, you’ll find some video game controllers that, for some reason — developers will claim that it was in the name of “innovation” but these controllers look more like a sad and pathetic excuse for a product than anything else — are just plain bad.
The original Microsoft Xbox controller was bad.
Like, really bad.
Compared to its more svelte and ergonomic contemporaries, such as the DualShock 2 for the PlayStation 2, as well as the default controller for the Nintendo GameCube, “The Duke”, as it has since been named, is more of a dupe than anything else.
The only thing royal about the original Microsoft Xbox controller is how it will go down as the king of worst video game controllers, and it’s not just because of how bad it is, but also because it was the default controller that the original Xbox came with.
Thankfully, Microsoft was smart enough to dial back on its design and release the “S” a few years later, which sports the same design philosophy that would be used later for the default controllers for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Nintendo N64 Controller
Apparently, human beings have three hands. Or, at least, those that used to work in Nintendo when the Nintendo 64 was being designed two decades ago were.
Just look at it.
Who in the right mind would design a controller so cumbersome to use that no human with two hands would be able to reach both the analogue stick and the D-pad without having to contort their hands in a way that most humans never could?
If there’s any consolation to Nintendo releasing one of the worst video game controllers of all time, it’s that it really wasn’t bad enough to deter most people from buying themselves a Nintendo 64. But, then again, could you imagine just how much more the console would have sold if the controller was any better?
For a team, it seemed as if like Sega could do no wrong.
Sales were going smoothly, and everything they released flew off of store shelves as quickly as they arrived. But, the success went to Sega’s head as they went and decided to release one failed idea after another, eventually releasing one of the worst video game controllers of all time in the Sega Activator.
In a way, the Sega Activator was ahead of its time.
With VR as big as it is today, the Sega Activator would probably fit right in with today’s tech, provided it was improved upon enough. But, back then, the novelty of having a “full-body game controller” that had you hopping around your living room just so you could try and make Sony run a single straight line just wasn’t enough to get people to buy the Sega Activator.
But, that’s not even the worst part.
The worst part about the Sega Activator is that it launched and died with zero games actually made to support it.
DualShock 3 / SixAxis
Speaking of launching a controller with features that no game ever supported, the DualShock 3 is another example of how even the most successful companies can launch a dud.
When it released, the Sony DualShock 3 was fresh off the heels of the Sony DualShock 2, which in itself was a massive improvement over the already excellent Dualshock for the original PlayStation that arguably started the current design trend of gaming controllers.
So, naturally, expectations for the PlayStation 3’s default controller were high.
Unfortunately, not only did the DualShock 3 fail to meet expectations, it was just a downright fail. Sure, the design was great. Nobody questioned that. But, by dropping the vibration feature and prioritizing motion-controls at a time when games very rarely supported the feature if at all, Sony stumbled upon one of the worst video game controllers of all time.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that the DualShock 3 came, however.
Arguably because of it, Sony had to redesign their controllers going forward, resulting into the near-perfect DualShock 4 that we all have come to know and love today.
The 80s and 90s was a weird time for video games.
With companies feeling each other out and treading uncharted waters, there were bound to be a failure or two. In fact, we’ve already featured a couple of them on our list. But, at least, with the Nintendo 64’s default controller and that of the Sega Activator, there was some sense to their failure.
On the other hand, the ProController for the Atari Jaguar is just .. bizarre.
We get trying to innovate and changing things up. That’s a risk you’d have to be willing to make in the gaming industry. However, design changes have to have some logic behind them, which the ProController severely lacked.
By adding a number pad into the ProController, Atari made the Jaguar’s gamepad unnaturally large, even for its time. The worst part? The pad had no use! Or, at least, not in the conventional sense. Atari thought that it was a good idea to put a number pad and not have it be used for writing numbers. Sure, games eventually made use of it, but who is here willing to bet that it was mostly because developers had no choice but to support such a bizarre-looking controller?
Weird times man. Weird times.
Intel Wireless Series Gamepad
Intel is one of the biggest companies around. Their reputation far exceeds that of the video game industry. But, even they aren’t immune to making questionable choices.
Case in point, the Intel Wireless Series Gamepad
Equal parts controller and equal parts neck support, this weird excuse for a controller promised a more “comfortable” way of playing video games, but failed to deliver massively because it was the exact opposite of comfortable to wear and use. Plus, in the off chance that you actually tried to make it work and download the drivers straight from Intel’s very own website, the Wireless Series Gamepad wouldn’t always work as intended.
Luckily, Intel was smart enough not to pitch the design as a default controller for a separate console.
How could a company fail more than thinking that gamers had three arms?
Well, release something before that utter failure of a controller that was the default gamepad for the Nintendo N64 and think that people would buy something that looked straight out of your favourite Super Sentai TV show — a genre of Japanese TV shows that inspired the likes of Power Rangers, among others.
One of the first wearable electronics ever released, Mattel’s Power Glove for the NES was way ahead of its time.
The Power Glove placed the NES controller’s buttons on your forearm and allowed you to control the screen using hand gestures. Plus, it had numbered buttons.
Basically, the Power Glove served as the inspiration for a number of controllers who unfortunately found themselves son our list.
The Dreamcast Controller
There are a lot of reasons why the Dreamcast failed as a console.
For one, it was way ahead of its time. Secondly, it went up against the PlayStation 2, which, by the way, went down as the best-selling console of all time. Lastly, the controller definitely did not do the Dreamcast any favour.
The bulky shape of the Dreamcast controller was probably even worse than that of the N64 that we featured earlier on our list, which is saying a lot. Not to mention, for how stocky the controller looked, it felt flimsy and cheap, with an unnatural feel when held that was a far cry from that of the DualShock.
Do you know how to go down as the creatures of one of the worst video game controllers ever released? It’s simple. Force everyone to buy it!
Taking a queue from the Power Glove of yesteryear, Microsoft made a more modern version of Nintendo’s take on remote interaction and decided that it was so good that people had to buy it.
In a way, Microsoft did succeed. At least, in the remote interaction part. Because, as a video game controller, the Kinect will and has gone down as one of the worst if not the worst gaming peripheral of all time.
Everything that could’ve gone wrong for the original Kinect went wrong, including poor performance in low lighting conditions and lack of support from developers.
To say that the Kinect was dead just right before it released would only be fitting. But, for Microsoft, the Kinect’s failure only served as motivation, and come the release of the Xbox One years later, they decided to double down and justify the console’s price increase by including the Kinect 2.0, which has since cost Microsoft millions of dollars in sales as the price difference (among others) allowed the PlayStation 4 to leapfrog the Xbox One as the best-selling console of its generation.
You only need to look at the difference in sales numbers between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One to know if the Kinect (or the Kinect 2.0) was worth the added premium.
Thankfully, these days, we’re spoiled with choices when it comes to video game controllers.
Because of how conscious companies already are with their releases, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see one in the future make it into a list of the worst video game controllers released of all time. Besides, even if we do see a weird release, we don’t think that it’ll be as bad as the ones featured on our list.
But, then again, who knows, right?
Either way, you won’t have to worry about wasting your money on a dud with us.
Here are The Controller People, we pride ourselves with one of the best custom PS4 controllers around. Modded from the DualShock 4 to fit the needs of every hardcore gamer out there, our custom-made PS4 controllers are merely improved versions of what’s considered as one of the best video game controllers of all time.