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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.