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February 14, 2013

The Playstation 4 Controller Prototype and Breakdown

ps4 controller prototype

Earlier today, Destructoid posted the above image claiming that it was a first look at one of the Playstation 4’s prototype controllers. That statement has since been confirmed according to sources speaking to IGN and Kotaku.

If it is just a prototype (and a real prototype at that) what’s shown in the image might not be totally representative of the final product. That being said, speculation around the controller’s design seems to line up with what we’ve been hearing. Let’s break it down.

The Sticks

The Dualshock 3 (the PS3’s current controller model) has always sported convex tops to its analog sticks. One recurring complaint about this design is that the rounded tops make it easy for sweaty thumbs to slip free during hectic play. The new model (Dualshock 4?) seems to get around this by including thick, rubbery-looking rings around each tip.

If this aspect makes it into the final design, it would put the analog sticks much more in line with those of the Xbox 360 controller.

The Buttons

While Sony’s iconic face buttons appear largely unchanged, significant changes look to have been made on the controller’s d-pad.

The directional buttons almost appear squished together, when compared to the Dualshock 3. Gone is the overlapping face plate separating up from down and left from right. Instead, we have what looks like a more standard “cross” design usually seen on Nintendo products.

From the photo, we can just barely discern that the individuals sections of the cross still angle towards the center, but it’s difficult to make out whether or not they still connect as a solid mass. Currently, the Xbox 360 controller, Nintendo Wii remote and Dualshock all have directional buttons that function as a solid pad (hence the term d-pad). If the PS4’s buttons are separate, it could mean for a “clicky-er,” more satisfying feel.

The Touchpad

Rumors have been circulating for a while now that the PS4’s controller would feature a touch-enabled surface based on the Vita’s rear touchpad. Those same rumors stated the pad would be able to be clicked like a MacBook’s track pad.

Assuming the next Playstation has a built-in browser like the PS3 and Vita, it’s easy to imagine using the surface to manipulate a cursor. And, while this is entirely speculation on my part, one cool use-case might include navigating a lotus on-screen keyboard, like the one used by Steam’s Big Picture Mode.

The Speaker(?)

Just below the trackpad is what appears to be a small speaker.

There aren’t a lot of uses for a speaker on a controller, unless you plan to port a lot of Wii games (on that note, I would be pretty alright with a Move-enabled version of Silent Hill Shattered Memories.) However, things start to make a bit more sense if we assume this is actually a microphone.

The Playstation 3 never shipped with headsets bundled in the box like the Xbox 360. And while it almost seems crazy to picture a world where not everyone owned a microphone of some sort, at the time this was a major hurdle. In fact, it’s a big part (or at least a decent indicator) of Sony’s original ignorance regarding online play.

Building a mic right into the controller assures that everyone will always have one on hand. No more untangling cables or syncing bluetooth devices, you’re always ready to chat whenever you want. Considering the Vita also has a built-in microphone, this seems like a pretty safe bet and a good indicator of the controller’s “everything Playstation, all-in-one” design.

The Triggers

Unfortunately, the way the controller is angled in this photo makes it difficult to speculate on the design of the controller’s shoulder buttons. Perhaps the biggest complaint about the Dualshock 3 stems from its recessed, convex R2 and L2 buttons. Many find these “triggers” spongy and cumbersome. It wouldn’t be crazy to assume that particular issue has been addressed, but until we see some more shots and different angles, we’ll just have to go on assuming.

The Glow

the glow

The most eye-catching alteration to what I’ve decided to refer to as the Dualshock 4 is the glowing, blue bar at the top.

There is little debate that the light could be anything other than a stand-in for the Playstation Move controller. Assuming this is the case, it means two very important things.

First, it means that Move support will be included in every controller out of the gate. One of the biggest problems with any peripheral (the Move included) is that there is little reason to support functionality for a feature that only a fraction of an audience actually owns. Including Move support out of the box means more developers will have more reason to view Move as worth exploring, rather than a waste of time and money.

Another, less certain assumption to consider is this might mean Playstation Eye cameras will be bundled with the Playstation 4 at launch. That is, if the camera isn’t built directly into the system.

Second, this means Sony hasn’t given up on the Move. Honestly, no one would have blamed them for abandoning a sinking ship, but it seems they’re sticking to their guns on this one. That’s good news for those who actually invested in Move, and bad news for those afraid of forced, out-of-place control functionality (I’m looking at you, Uncharted: Golden Abyss).

The Mystery Button

enhanced playstation 4 image

Just to the upper right of the controller’s d-pad is an unlabeled, black rectangle. What could this possibly be, you ask? Most are assuming this is the rumored “share button.” However, upon closer examination it’s clear there are actually two, identical buttons on both sides of the controller.

You might have to zoom in a bit on your browser to see it, but its there. We’ve included an enhanced version of the image for just that sort of perusal.

The two of buttons together likely means these so-called mystery buttons are, in reality, start and select. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the huge revelation everyone wanted, and lends credence to the report stating the share button doesn’t exist at all.

It’s possible the share functionality has simply been moved somewhere else, of course. If the trackpad really does click, it seems as likely a place to move it as any.

We’ll learn the final fate of the share button and a whole lot more come February 20 during Sony’s “See the Future” press conference.

Speaking of which, you can expect full coverage of the event to be provided right here on SideQuesting.

[Source: Destructoid]



About the Author

Steven Strom
Steven is a freelance journalist and editor for SideQuesting, as well as several newspapers. He is a podcast co-host for The Side Quest, Lonely TARDIS and Drunks and Dragons. His interests include comics, books, games you've never heard of and fettucini alfredo.




  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.emerson1 Mike Emerson

    Also is it just me, or does that appear to be a headphone jack on the bottom right below the home button?

  • http://twitter.com/yaboisly LykaBawse

    Looks like a small LCD on the front, surly its going to be touchscreen as well.

  • ps3 review

    if the ps4 only have “first person shooter” and multiplat games online only im out and video games as I know it is dead. with download content or stream gaming all sony did was eliminate onlive.

  • Ali

    If you look even closer at the track pad it does have a start and select option written on it

  • Robbie

    It looks like it yeah, but it could also be the sync button for wireless testing/Move.

    This controller looks like another ergonomic nightmare that will induce even more thumb tendinitis because of the angle of the analogs and why make a touchscreen that you have to move your hand to get over the analog sticks? It’s also way too small for complex gestures. Many people with larger hands will have their fingertips over the Move strip as well. Very impracticle and I sure as hell hope the final design is very different, otherwise I won’t be buying a PS4!

    Those two buttons are simply select and start BTW. There is no share button.

    Move was a flop, not because it wasn’t good, but because nobody was interested in it after the Wii. That won’t change by integrating it into the PS4 controller.
    It smells like Sony’s lost the plot by copying and converging all kinds of technologies.
    It will make it an expensive purchase if one breaks and most of those features will probably be useless for many.

  • Laurence Smith

    I find it sad that you immediately decide you WONT buy a ps4 simply because the controller is a bit different….

  • DarthDiggler

    I bet those buttons adjacent to the touch area are select and start.

  • DarthDiggler

    It’s likely a bulky prototype. Obviously this isn’t the photo Sony wanted you to see.

    Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. I am sure more info is going to be revealed next week.

  • http://twitter.com/stevenstrom Steven Strom

    I didn’t actually notice that until after I’d posted the article. Good eye!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Web-Des/100003359088780 Web Des

    that kaz gif!!!

  • jajaja

    Built in microphone???, Why isn’t anybody talking about that.

  • Pat.

    I would love to think PS4 controller will have ‘move’ functionality out of the box..yet it’s still not for certain, personally as a journalist you shouldn’t speculate that far ahead..there are many glowing controllers out there, yes i know they are usually 3rd party (afterglow anyone?), but still..

    However I do love the notion and thought of some sort of move functionality out of the box..so that games like killzone4 and games that didn’t have move functionality can implement it…even for tiny movement, like when sniping…hopefully the sharpshooter that i bought for the ps3 doesn’t go to waste…its quite fun, alas not as accurate as say the wii implementation.