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Sony Tried Changing the Analog Stick Placement for DualShock 4

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Posted on October 22, 2013 AT 01:47pm

In designing the controller for their next-gen gaming platform, Sony has made some drastic changes to their long-running DualShock design. One change they considered, however, may have been highly controversial among fans.

For years, nobody questioned the idea of the DualShock’s analog sticks being placed lower on the controller. And then, something happened: Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gained popularity with gamers, and some argued that analog sticks—especially the left one—should be in the main position on a controller. With the DualShock, they noted, that main position was taken up by the far-less-often-used d-pad—relegating the left analogy stick to a secondary position.

Of course, fans of Sony’s controllers responded with a wide variety of counter-claims against such notions. Think arguments can get heated between fans of different consoles? That’s nothing when it comes time to fight about where analogs stick should be.

While many—including myself—have long sided with Sony’s decision on analog stick placement, it seems that the PlayStation team was willing to consider that they might be wrong.

“For the analog sticks, we did test having the analog sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad],” Sony engineer Toshimasa Aoki told EGM alumni Dan Shu over at GamesBeat. “Especially from the shooter teams — we got feedback that that’s what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.”

Can you imagine? After years of sticking up for the design of the DualShock, how would I have lived with the shame of knowing that the idea’s biggest proponent admitted they had been wrong all of this time?

Thankfully, that horrifying situation would never come to be.

“We already had made a prototype and denied that version,” Aoki continued. “When Nintendo came out with that, we were like, ‘Wow, that’s just like our prototype!’ That surprised us. But yeah, we decided that it just wouldn’t work. People are used to having the buttons up there, and this moves the most-used button — the X — so far away [from your right thumb]. If we moved the X up there, it just breaks all the muscle memory. The right hand mostly goes for both buttons and sticks, but the left hand stays on one or the other and usually doesn’t switch around [between the left analog stick and the D-pad]. That’s why it’s OK to switch around the left side. But switching the right side really breaks the gamer’s experience.”

Sure, I’ll admit it: maybe it doesn’t make total sense to have the d-pad where it is, and the left analog stick where it is, when it comes to the design of the DualShock. But, you know what? I’m glad we live in a world where there are options, and where players can have the choice on which controller design they most prefer.

For more on the design of the PlayStation 4′s controller, read the full story over on VentureBeat’s GamesBeat section via the link below.

What do you think? Is the DualShock 4 perfect the way it is? Or should Sony have stuck with the idea of moving the analog sticks to another position? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: GamesBeat

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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