Amazon's Video Game Controller Looks Hideous

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Last year, Game Informer reported that (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) was working on a video game console. Then, in February, TechCrunch said the retailer had acquired Double Helix Games, the developer of Killer Instinct, a launch title for Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One.

While Amazon's video game debut could put pressure on the existing console players -- Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) -- the most recent leak doesn't look particularly promising.

Amazon's controller
Leaked images of Amazon's controller (via Zatz) show something not too terribly different from any other video game controller. Two thumb sticks, a circle of buttons, some triggers, and a D-pad complete a design that looks more than capable of playing the latest Call of Duty title.

Amazon uses Fire OS, a modified version of the Android operating system, on its Kindle Fire tablets. It seems logical to assume that it would do the same on its video game console, and if the controller is any indication, it will do just that -- the three center menu buttons on the controller correspond directly to the buttons found on any Android-based phone or tablet.

But overall, the controller design looks horrendous -- an ugly, uncomfortable rip-off of Microsoft's Xbox design. I'm not only gamer to think this -- commentators on NeoGAF, a gaming enthusiast forum known for leaking details on, among other things, Microsoft's Xbox One, came to a similar conclusion.

"Ugly," wrote one poster. "It looks so sad. Someone needs to cheer it up," wrote another. "That looks like it'd be really uncomfortable to use."

Controllers can make or break a system
The importance of a video game console's controller cannot be understated: Microsoft reportedly spent $100 million developing the Xbox One's controller, while the success of Nintendo's last console, the Wii, was predicated almost entirely on the (then) revolutionary Wiimote. The successor to Nintendo's Wii, the Wii U, has largely been a failure at retail, due partially to its expensive, and under-utilized tablet controller.

It's possible that the images of Amazon's controller are of an earlier version, a prototype, and not indicative of the finished product. It's also possible that it feels much better in the hand than it looks. But based on these images, I wouldn't expect Amazon to obliterate the competition.

It looks like Amazon is serious about video gaming
Still, Amazon's move to offer a full-fledged controller, rather than say, a touch-based control scheme using a tablet, suggests that the retailer is serious about competing in the traditional video game market.

Last week, TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas argued that the console market was "in crisis." Lomas' argument involved a certain amount of cherry-picked data (focusing on January's poor sales and ignoring a strong November and December), but sluggish console sales suggest the market is ripe for a shakeup: Nintendo's living room console, the Wii U, has fallen far short of Nintendo's expectations, while Microsoft appears to have overestimated the demand for its Xbox One console.

Given Amazon's extensive cloud assets, and the data it has compiled over the years on its customers' video game preferences, Amazon could eventually emerge as a formidable competitor -- but it might need to redesign its controller first.

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Read/Post Comments (21) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 15, 2014, at 4:27 PM, elle233 wrote:

    It seems the Amazon set top box will finally bring

    the android based home consoles to the mainstream.

    At least that's what most people here seem to think:

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 4:49 PM, swap3chi wrote:

    the ugliest looking controller. uhhhgggglllllllyyyyy!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 5:52 PM, canonian wrote:

    Ok Fool do not become Yahoo news and leave out a picture of this UGLY controller.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 6:35 PM, laethyn wrote:

    This is Motley Fool, the article may as well read: "Amazon controller not the PS4 controller, therefore, it's bad"

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 9:13 PM, Death215 wrote:

    Nothing is even official yet and this article talking about the remote being Hideous. What a joke...

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 9:14 PM, paintrain1 wrote:

    Sam Mattera, your journalism is always predictable and very one sided. Simply put, you love the PS4 and will do anything to attack other gaming consoles. Your articles about the XBOX One are a joke, and now this.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 9:17 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    Every single controller for the Xbox systems have been a direct ripoff of the Sega Dreamcast controller which MS had direct access to because they worked with Sega to make it Windows based.

    Perhaps that's what Amazon should have done, stole the idea right...or not.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:43 AM, moopert wrote:

    No Android based console will ever be a serious contender.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:46 AM, philthymcnasty wrote:

    The video games industry is the last industry anyone should be investing in. The developers AND the console makers are not keeping the customers happy. Its only a matter of time before the consumers let the industry know how upset they are.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 5:39 AM, Interventizio wrote:

    I don't know there is kind of a retro appeal to it.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:07 AM, wasr30 wrote:

    There is is a link to the pic of the controller in the article. It looks like a bulky xbox controller

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 8:35 AM, GenWarbuff wrote:

    " an ugly, uncomfortable rip-off"..... So does this mean the writer of this story actually got to hold/use the controller? Oh yeah, it's talking about leaked images so maybe they just held a picture of it.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 11:41 AM, TJarrod wrote:

    I'll admit that the controller is very dull and uninspired looking... But at least they got the analog stick placement right. (I'm talking to you SONY)

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 2:41 PM, ewro wrote:


    What are you talking about??? My thumbs are the same on both hands. Are yours different? Sony has it right.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:45 PM, bendriver wrote:


    Sega and Microsoft were partners and the SegaDream cast was running a version of DirectX which is Microsoft's...The Dreamcast didnt do well so Microsoft dropped Sega and made there own "DirectX-box" aka Xbox. BTW look at the Playstation controller, its a Super Nintendo controller with 2 extra shoulder buttons...

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 7:48 PM, webguy76 wrote:

    Sam, I have been reading your trashy work for some time now (only because it is on Yahoo) and you have the most pessimistic, negative outlook on anything not named Apple. No one here takes your "work" seriously; you lambast everything new that isn't developed by Apple, yet if Apple developed that very same product, you would be all about it. Please man stop posting this garbage, and Motley Fool, get some real reporters!

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 9:44 PM, BeefBungalow wrote:

    Would it be too much to ask for you to show a picture?

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 11:12 PM, Burstedbladder wrote:

    hmmmmmmmm, with amazon raising their rates, I don't think they will be as successful as they think they might be.

    It's a game controller, whoopi, and I wouldn't waste a dime on it unless their console it gonna be better than the PA4 and we all know that's never gonna happen.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:07 AM, RobertM86 wrote:

    Not sure how the control is ugly or uncomfortable to use based on that picture...

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 3:42 AM, anrbfan wrote:

    If you spend all that much time LOOKING AT the game controller, you have no idea of what game playing is all about.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 6:20 AM, dolfan1 wrote:

    From reading Sam's "Fool" (I only LOVE PS4) articles, I'd say his employer is aptly named (FOOL).

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Sam Mattera

Sam has a love of all things finance. He writes about tech stocks and consumer goods.

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