Seamus Blackley has created a Twitter thread about the reasoning behind why the controller is making a comeback and why this version will definitely be more refined than the original. He has also explained why it was so big and later refined to create the Xbox S controller.
It’s actually quite interesting and you can read it below.
THREAD: Why is there a re-release of the OG Xbox controller when “everybody hates it?” The original Xbox controller circuit board was farmed out to a company who made it too big. So a very talented designer figured out a way to mostly make it work, but alas it was enormous. I mean, it had its own weather systems. Jets would occasionally divert from SeaTac to land on it. It affected tides. There was a lot going on during that time, and I lost track a bit and then suddenly I was standing on stage holding this thing and people got ANGRY and threw stuff and made jokes about hand (ahem) size and such. It was actually pretty unpleasant to be the face of it. I was spending a lot of time in Japan in this period wooing Japanese developers and publishers, who all started to PANIC at the size of the thing for the Japanese market, let alone ROW. So, I ended up helping them sign a petition to redesign a new controller for the Japanese market, which became the “S” controller. I was relieved and proud, because the heat we took over the big controller was intense. I honestly had no idea from my perspective that the DUKE was also dearly loved by many gamers!
(btw the code name DUKE was after the son of the program manager for it, a wonderful guy and a great kid.)
So, last year after unpacking some boxes, I tweeted a picture of one of the original prototype DUKEs, and to my honest AMAZEMENT people were SUPER POSITIVE and nostalgic about it, even though I was even then mocking it and making jokes about it causing tsunamis. One follower suggested that I get MS to re-release it for Xbox One, and I asked if anyone would be psyched and this got an ASTONISHING response, enough that Phil Spencer noticed. So we talked, in amazement, at how awesome it was that there was love for DUKE. For me, the idea of turning all that negative energy into something positive was completely inspiring, so with @XboxP3 ‘s blessing I built a little prototype where I cut out the original foil “X” and replaced it with an OLED display and had it play the OG startup, which ends with the logo that matches the original foil. I sent it to MS and along with @hyperkin We got a plan together and now they have an approved design and product. So. When I see people saying “everyone hated the OG controller.” I smile, because it’s not true, and I learned a lesson, and I get to love something now that was painful. Gamers Rule. Game on!