Next XBOX and its controller are covered in zebra stripes. Privacy ++

It's Durango or some shit.

Game developers are rubbing their grubby paws all over the new Xbox and its controller. That’s pretty swell. What is even more swell is an idea that Microsoft has seemingly cooked up to prevent leaks. They have slathered all this new fetish plastic in zebra stripes, using it as a means to identify the specific controller that is leaked. Or some shit.


Controllers for the next Xbox as well as prototype versions of both Microsoft’s new, powerful console and the machine’s new, mandatory Kinect sensor have been in the hands of game creators since last month. But that’s not much of a surprise. What is a surprise is that all of that gear is covered in criss-crossing, radiating black and white stripes. The console codenamed Durango currently looks like a zebra.
Microsoft doesn’t talk publicly about its new console, which is likely to hit shelves in America late this year or early next. But four unrelated games industry sources have all confirmed the look of the development hardware to Kotaku.

The question isn’t if the Durangos are wearing their referee shirts now. The question is why.

Two probable reasons:

Discouraging Leakers: A few weeks before Microsoft rival Sony revealed its PlayStation 4 to the world, the world got to look at the PlayStation 4’s controller. That look came courtesy of photos of the controller leaked to outlets such as Kotaku. The PS4 controller is black, as were the ones whose images leaked. Black controllers are hard to tie to specific owners. If everyone–every game developer, publisher, marketer, researcher, enterprising mailman, etc.–who has a controller has a black one, then any leak of that controller is untraceable.

A lot about Durango has already leaked. Microsoft would probably like to put an end to that. So, consider something like this mock-up:

But if everyone who has the next Xbox’s controller has one with its own special black and white stripes? And if those strips vary? Then any leak could be traced, to some extent. Only a person who doesn’t mind obliterating the relationship between Microsoft and the intended recipient of the controller is going to leak a photo.

The only problem with this theory is that the stripe patterns may not differ across these devices. The only way to confirm that is to get two people to compare their controllers or to compare two controllers ourselves, something we haven’t been able to do. And if those two are the same, maybe there still is another variation out there. Which potential leaker would take the chance that each controller was identical?

Baffling Observers. During World War I, the British military painted warships in zany black and white patterns similar to those on the Durango’s controller, console and Kinect. Those stripes, referred to as “dazzle camouflage,” were designed to disguise some of the ships’ traits. The stripes made it harder to assess the ships’ size and speed.

Modern auto makers use similar patterns to obscure the contours of new cars that might be spotted during a test drive but aren’t officially announced yet. The patterns can make it hard to ascertain the edge of a spoiler. The patterns can also confound a camera’s autofocus.