Brett Schnepf, one of the earliest developers on the original Xbox hardware, has passed away. As part of Microsoft‘s hardware division, Schnepf’s career with the company spanned 18 years. However, Schnepf initially wanted nothing to do with Xbox. According to Seamus Blackley, Schnepf was skeptical about creating a video game console for Microsoft, and even believed it might ruin his career. Schnepf would leave a lasting impact, however. Besides his pivotal work on the console itself, Schnepf was a lead developer on the original Xbox controller, which he codenamed “Duke” after his son. Now Duke Schnepf has started a GoFundMe for his father’s funeral costs. A link can be found in the Tweet below.
Brett was in the hardware (mice and keys) group when we rolled in and screwed up his group and his whole world up with the console idea. His easy smile, charm and relentless crazy drive was instrumental. He was also terrified it was going to end his career! pic.twitter.com/I8OhnmH9pZ
— Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) August 16, 2020
Blackley is not the only one paying tribute to Schnepf. Xbox boss Phil Spencer also took to Twitter to share his memories and condolences.
Incredibly sad news. A loss for anyone who knew Brett. Thoughts go out to his family. I remember Brett as someone who came at any challenge with energy, passion and a desire to do what’s right.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 16, 2020
Outside of Xbox, Schnepf also played a role in a number of other Microsoft projects. He contributed to the development of the Sidewinder controllers for PC, as well as Microsoft Train Simulator and Microsoft Flight Simulator. He is survived by sons Duke and Jack.
Schnepf’s contributions to the Xbox brand are a testament to the unseen work that occurs in video game development. While Schnepf is likely not a household name to most Xbox fans, his efforts have left a major impact on the video game industry as a whole. The Duke controller has long been considered one of the more controversial video game controllers, but it still has a passionate fanbase, after all these years. After quite some time off the market, Microsoft brought the Duke controller back in 2018, and fans will still be able to use it when Xbox Series X launches later this year. That only seems fitting, since the console might not exist if not for Schnepf’s contributions to the Xbox brand.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.
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