I've been asking for a nice arcade style controller for the Xbox 360 for a while now and Arcade-In-A-Box is looking to fill that void. Just after we got the press release, I conducted a small online interview with Ed Farias who owns and operates Arcade-In-A-Box. It seems his latest announcement has a lot of people buzzing.
So let's start off by introducing yourself and what you do...
My name is Ed Farias and I own and operate Arcade-In-A-Box, LLC. I do everything from the design of the products, to assembly and testing of each product. This is the reason I like to stay in the niche product market. This gives me the ability to work with my customers one on one to bring them a high quality and customizable product.
How long have you guys been in business and what made you decide to go into developing arcade style products?
Arcade-In-A-Box as been around since 1999, but we just became a LLC over a year ago. This started as a hobby for me building systems that could replace large bulky arcade cabinets. A lot of people don't have the space in their house or apartment for a larger system, so I decided to streamline that into what is now the Arcade-In-A-Box. Plus the fact that most people have one large TV they use for gaming and watching movies, why not use that same TV for some classic gaming. From there, new products ideas came about based on the In-A-Box idea.
Why did you decide to produce an arcade style 360 product when you seem to have been focusing on a complete arcade in a box solution as your name implies?
The rapid growth of Xbox Live Arcade is what really started this. I was very frustrated playing SFII for the first time with the 360 gamepad. I decided to build myself a 360 arcade stick and tested it out. I had more fun with the Live arcade titles than I thought I would. Playing SFII online was a blast, knowing the opponent on the other end was most likely stuck using the gamepad :)
Why do you think it's taken so long for an arcade style controller to be released on the Xbox 360?
I think it's a niche market. The bigger companies need a product that will be a huge seller to make it worth it to manufacture. Creating an arcade controller with an authentic feel isn't cheap. Companies now make everything out of plastic. You can't get that real arcade feel if the controller is sliding all over the table because it weighs 2 pounds. You need something tough and with some mass to keep up with the intense gameplay.
Did you work closely with Microsoft on the product and if so how was that relationship?
I've never spoken to anyone at Microsoft, so I guess our relationship is the same as most people. I'm a gamer, and they make a good console, and good games.
If you have no current relationship with Microsoft, will there be any licensing issues by creating a controller that's going to be used for the Xbox 360?
That I have no idea. If there is a problem I guess it would come from MadCatz since I'm using their pcbs. Maybe I didn't think through that aspect of it. Maybe MS will step up and provide me a means :). I wish MS would make it easier for small companies like me to create products for their systems.
How customizable are the two 360 controllers?
The buttons, joysticks, edging colors can all be changed to your liking. We have numerous colors of each to choose from, and after placing an order you will get a link to an online form to fill out to choose your color options. The printed overlay is completely customizable. We don't print until you are happy with it, and we are happy to share our design files if you want to make your own overlay.
From the information on the product page, it says that you can't use the Xbox 360 headset and that you should use your Xbox headset with the controller. Why did you decide to not put in a Xbox 360 compatible headset jack?
For an easy answer, it's a weird jack which I can't find anywhere. It was much easier, and more cost effective to just allow people to use their old xbox headset, or cellular phone headset. One thing we have found is most people don't use a headset when playing the arcade games anyway, so we made it optional.
How has the response been since the announcement of the product being available?
It's been great. Most of the people are really impressed with the product and we have had a large amount of review unit requests. One thing that people most complain about is the price. What people have to understand is this isn't a cheap plastic arcade knockoff. This product uses real arcade parts, from one of the leading manufacturers of arcade parts in the world. It just feels like you are playing on a real arcade cabinet, especially the 2 player units. The younger generation doesn't understand what it was like to stand shoulder to shoulder with some stranger at the local arcade and battle it out in SFII or Mortal Kombat.
What are the chances that we'll see a wireless versions of the two 360 controllers?
Probably not until after the holidays, if at all. The first problem is making the batteries easy to get to so you swap them out, where at the same time, making the unit still pretty to look at. The second problem is by removing the usb, you remove direct compatibility with windows PCs. Sure the wireless will work with windows, but you need to buy additional hardware to make that happen.
Will we see similar products for the Wii and PlayStation 3 in the near future?
Probably not the WII, maybe for the ps3. I have not cracked open a PS3 controller yet to see what I would be dealing with. Plus, I don't have a ps3 at this time to do any testing with. We do custom work, so if anyone wants a controller made for a particular system, just let me know. NES, SNES, Playstation, Dreamcast, etc.
And finally for our off the wall question, if you were stuck on an island and can only have one gaming character be there with you to keep you company.. who would you choose and why?
Well I guess it depends if there are "others" on the island. If there are some hostiles, then Master Chief, no question about it. If it was just me and this other character, I guess I would have to choose a female, right? I guess I would have to choose Lara Croft. Not only is she hot, but she could hold her own in a fight if hostiles ever did come into play.
I'd like to thank Ed for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us.
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