Is the PlayStation controller the most perfect object ever designed?
As objects go, for many of us, a PlayStation controller is one that we’re familiar with more than anything else. Those familiar contours slip so effortlessly into ones paws, the pad becomes like an extension of the self. The four symbols on the buttons - the square, the triangle, the circle, the X - it’s a good controller, is what we’re saying.
It was close to perfection when it launched in 1994, and with the addition of DualShock in 1997 it became the stuff of legend. Slight adjustments over the years have resulted in the current DualShock 4, an ergonomic wonder that may be sleeker than it’s original but still largely follows the exact same specifications laid out way back then. But its days could be numbered…
As spotted by redditor AlphaFoxWarfare, Sony Interactive Entertainment America have just filed an updated patent for what sounds a lot like a new controller with a touchscreen built into it.
The patent, which can be found at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is extremely long and extremely tedious, describes the controller the way an incredibly officious alien who knew nothing about comprehensible sentences might describe one:
A controller for interfacing wirelessly with a computing device is provided, including the following: a housing defined by a main body, a first extension extending from a first end of the main body, and a second extension extending from a second end of the main body, the first extension and the second extension for holding by a first hand and a second hand of a user, respectively; a touchscreen defined along the top surface of the main body between the first extension and the second extension; a first set of buttons disposed on the top surface of the main body proximate to the first extension and on a first side of the touchscreen; and a second set of buttons disposed on the top surface of the main body proximate to the second extension and on a second side of the touchscreen.
What this seems to mean is that the PlayStation 5, or even new PS4s, will have a touchscreen on the controller. Hmm. A touchscreen would bring battery life concerns with it - current PS4 controllers aren’t famed for the longevity of their batteries, and adding something as draining as a touchscreen won’t help that. There’s already a touchpad on the controller, of course, which arguably hasn’t been utilised by games developers as much as it could have been, and occasionally turns into a bit of an albatross (accidentally fast-forwarding through videos by brushing your finger against it, for instance).
But it could be great - it could end up working a bit more like the Nintendo DS or Switch, opening up new ways of playing using both the primary and secondary screens. Your map could be open on your controller, for instance, leaving your display clearer but giving you something else to try and keep an eye on.
Could be annoying, could be a really absorbing way to play. Think about having to glance down during a gunfight to know how much ammo you have left, or just keep the controller in your peripheral vision all the time because it’ll alert you when a monster’s about to strike. Could be amazing.
Time will tell - no dates or schedules or anything have been announced, and the PS4 has only been out for five years, less than any of the previous between-PlayStations gaps. A hyped reveal at E3 next year wouldn’t be out of the question though, followed by the big release in time for Christmas 2019. People have been speculating, however, that this controller alone could be £250 or more, so you might want to start filling that penny jar.
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