Custom coloring specialists ColorWare recently started offering their coloring services for the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller, the cream of the crop of videogame controllers. Professionally recoloring a controller can be an expensive proposition, so we decided to test the process for ourselves.
Read on for full insights into the custom coloring process and more photos of the Windows Central Xbox One Elite Controller!
The ColorWare process
Before I ordered a custom Elite Controller, I spoke to ColorWare about their coloring process.
ColorWare offers aftermarket coloring services, meaning they paint products that have already been produced for retail. Whether you send in or buy a product directly from ColorWare to be recolored, the first thing they do is disassemble the product. They clean each part to remove oils, glues, and other residues so that it can be painted evenly.
The multistage paint process that follows closely resembles the process of painting a car. Each part is sanded, covered in a primer base coat, two clear coats, inspected, and reassembled. Finally, the product gets boxed up and shipped out to the customer.
ColorWare's facility consists of four car-size paint booths, which they describe as superior to what most aftermarket car painting facilities use. One booth is dedicated solely to prep work, one to painting solid colors, one to metallic colors, and one to clear coats. This separation prevents cross-color contamination. Further preventing contamination, all 58 colors have their own paint gun.
Now that we understand the general process from ColorWare's end, let's customize and order an Xbox One Elite Controller.
Choose your colors
ColorWare provides custom coloring services for a variety of electronics. Gaming-wise, they offer custom Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers and systems. The systems cost quite a bit more than controllers to colorize, but you can send in your system to significantly reduce the price.
With standard controllers, you just design the controller, and they sell you a brand new one; you can't send in your own. But ColorWare does let you send in an Elite controller to reduce the price of the coloring job, presumably because the Elite is already a costly controller.
Designing your own Xbox One Elite Controller is a bit more involved than a regular Xbox One controller, but only because the Elite Controller has more parts that can be colorized. Head to ColorWare's custom Elite Controller page and you'll find nine different parts to colorize and one to engrave. Note that only the front color is included in the base price. Each additional part you colorize adds to the cost of the job.
ColorWare offers 29 "solid" colors and 29 metallic colors, for a total of 58 color choices. Each of these comes in a gloss or matte finish. I'm told that glossy finishes resist wear and tear more than matte, but the downside is they also show dirt and grease a lot more.
The following parts can be colored:
- Front: The main face of the controller.
- Top: For $10, you can have the glossy area surrounding the bumpers and triggers painted.
- Bumpers: Colorize the Left Bumper and Right Bumper buttons at the top of the controller for $10.
- Triggers: Coloring the Left and Right Triggers costs $10.
- Joystick Bases: Although you can't color the actual analog stick tops, you can, at least, add a splash to the stick bases for $5.
- D-Pad Plus Style: The Elite comes with two swappable D-Pads. Each D-Pad style costs $5 to color. If you don't use a particular D-Pad, you don't need to pay to have it colored.
- D-Pad Disc Style: My D-Pad of choice looks great with color!
- Battery Cover: Colorizing the battery cover costs $10. Note that painting the battery cover will hide the trigger lock labels found there. I find a colored battery cover looks tacky on a black rear shell anyway, so I opted not to color mine.
- Paddles: The Elite's removable paddles are one of its standout features, although I don't care for them myself. $10 lets you choose a single color for the four of them.
- Engraving: For $40, you can engrave text on the top of the battery cover. No choice of fonts, unfortunately.
As you choose your colors and engraving, the preview image automatically updates to reflect your design. Having finished your design, you can then click the Share button to the top-right of the preview and send a custom link to your friends. Follow this link for our controller design.
If you're ready to order, add the controller to your cart. A newly purchased controller will ship out within 7-10 days, and comes in the original Microsoft packaging.
All custom products from ColorWare include a one-year warranty. If you experience any paint wear during that time, the company will repair it for free. After that time, the cost of repair services depends on the cause and extent of the wear.
Our custom Elite Controller
Just over two weeks after I sent my Elite Controller to be recolored, I received the finished product. I'm pleased to say that this one turned out just as well as the regular Xbox One controller we had them customize a while back.
Once again, I can't find a single imperfection. The colors are uniform, smooth, and completely professional. The only way you can tell this controller wasn't made in blue and pink is by checking the back side of the removable components like the D-Pads and Battery Cover. ColorWare doesn't color the surfaces you wouldn't see during normal use.
Comparing the coloring service offered between a regular controller and an Elite, there are some notable differences. You can get the entire back of a regular controller painted. The only rear surface on the Elite that ColorWare paints is the battery cover. That owes to the rubber handles on the Elite Controller. Because the rubber is built into the rear plastic shell, the shell apparently can't be painted safely.
One big improvement with ColorWare's service for the Elite Controller is you can change the color of the top portion of the controller, as well as the bumpers and triggers. I've never cared for the glossy black area on most standard Xbox One controllers, so I'm glad they let us change the color and finish on the Elite. You can even give the bumpers and triggers different colors from the top. ColorWare should paint the green sync button at the top, though, as it tends to clash with custom designs.
The most elite of the Elite
ColorWare's services are top notch. I find it almost impossible to believe you could order a custom controller from them and not be happy with the results. But as ever, the cost may be a sticking point with prospective buyers.
The base price of buying a custom Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller directly from ColorWare is $264 shipped. If you'd rather send in an Elite that you already own, that starts at $114 shipped. ColorWare also ships internationally, but they only accept credit cards as payment – not PayPal. No matter what, you're looking at spending nearly twice the retail price of an Elite Controller on a purely aesthetic service.
Before you flip out over the price, remember the amount of work that goes into disassembling, painting, and reassembling a controller. It's a complex process that does not afford shortcuts or cost-cutting measures.
Nobody needs to give an Xbox One Elite Controller a sexy custom paint job. But man, what a cool thing to have! And the chances are that a decent portion of gamers who can afford a $150 controller also have the disposable income to spend on customizing one too. Whether those people choose to do so, all comes down to how much they care about having a controller that stands out from the crowd. If that sounds like you, ColorWare won't let you down.
How do you like the Windows Central-colored Elite Controller? If you think you can do better, be sure to leave a comment with a link to your own custom design!