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Sony Tested Xbox-Style Analog Stick Placement for DualShock 4, “Denied” Wii U GamePad Analog Stick Setup

October 21, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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Sony has been quite open when it comes to the creation of the DualShock 4, with it undergoing many iterations following lots of developer feedback on what they’d like to see from the controller.

To get a little more backstory about the DualShock 4, VentureBeat interviewed Toshimasa Aoki, Manager of the Product Planning Department, where he revealed what they had planned to do all the way back at the beginning in 2010:

At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller. We tried out new devices, changing the form factor. We’d start from there and then try to talk to the game teams and tweak toward what the best form would be to have for those new devices. So we made, I don’t know, more than 20 prototypes. Some had no buttons, just touch panels. Some were rounded. All this crazy stuff.

When it comes to the analog sticks, Aoki continued, “We did test having the analog sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad]. Especially from the shooter teams – we got feedback that that’s what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.”

Of course, they scrapped that idea to have Xbox-style analog sticks because the two symmetrical analog sticks “is kind of in our DNA. The prototype team, myself, and also the management team really felt that having this look is the PlayStation look, and we had to keep that.”

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Ironically, Sony had even experimented with having both analog stick near the top of the controller (like the Wii U GamePad and Pro Controller), but they had “denied” that particular version. When they then saw the Wii U controllers, “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. If we moved the X up there, it just breaks all the muscle memory.”

A big factor of the Wii U GamePad – the touch screen – was something Sony also tested for the DualShock 4, but “our game teams felt like having to look down at the controller is not what they want to do. They want to have the consumers concentrated on the big picture that they show [on TV].” As well, they even tried to replace the face buttons with a single touchscreen. For that particular iteration, the vote “was probably 100-0.”

As it stands, the DualShock 4 will just had the small touch pad in the center of the controller, which is something the developers love, “but only as the secondary input. Of course, as it evolves and people get used to the touchpad, it may become more primary.”

A couple interesting tidbits also came up, with Tommy de Roos, Lead Gameplay Programmer at Guerrilla Games, saying that they “pushed for the headphone jack,” while adding that he thinks Evolution Studios (DriveClub) “pushed for better gyros, because they want to experiment with steering there.”

How would you have reacted if the DualShock 4 had Xbox-style analog stick placement and a touch screen instead of face buttons? Let us know in the comments below.