Back in late 2018, we first talked about the controller prototypes for Microsoft's Project xCloud game streaming service that were meant to make gaming on smartphones and tablets more enjoyable. Controls are a crucial part of allowing gamers to enjoy the games xCloud offers anywhere, and few are happy with touch controls. A Microsoft patent has now turned up that shows line art that looks just like the prototypes that we saw last year.
The tech that Microsoft cooked up was granted a patent on July 9, 2019, and is U.S. patent No. 10,348,108. The patent application was filed on June 13, 2017, taking a bit over two years to make its way through the patent process. Essentially, the controller attaches to the sides of a smartphone or tablet with springs and has attachments that allow the small controllers to be held comfortably.
One thing that gamers will notice right away is that when the controllers are attached to the sides of a large phone or tablet, the system looks very much like a Nintendo Switch. The controllers do block a bit of what you see on the screen when attached; this problem will only get worse as phone and tablet bezels get thinner and thinner.The patent also shows a way for the controllers to attach to a center charging section for charging and presumably for use as a traditional controller without having to clamp onto the side of the screen. While the design of the controller is vastly different from what the Xbox game console offers, the button arrangement appears the same and should make the controllers easy to use for Xbox gamers. Just because Microsoft was granted a patent on the tech doesn't mean the controller will ever come to market. However, this seems like a reasonable way to give mobile gamers traditional gaming feel, and that is what xCloud is all about.