It seem’s that it’s not just me who hates the feel of the DualShock thumbstick layouts. For me they’re about as ergonomic and as comfortable to use as left handed scissors in your right hand. It seems that Sony may see it that way too because they’ve revealed that they toyed with around 20 prototypes for the new DualShock controller before settling on something more familiar.
Manager of the product planning department, Toshimasa Aoki, told GamesBeat that they’d made “more than 20 prototypes” before settling on the DualShock 4 controller we see today. Aoki revealed that they tried different thumbstick layouts similar to that of the Xbox 360 controller and even the Wii U’s Pro Controller.
“At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller,” said Toshimasa Aoki. “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.”
“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]. Especially from the shooter teams — we got feedback that that’s what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.”
Aoki finally spoke about the layout of the Wii U’s Pro Controller which has the thumbsticks above the buttons. “We already had made a prototype and denied that version,” he said. “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.”
Finally the team settled for what we see today, the main reason being, continuity. As much as I hate to admit it, a DualShock controller wouldn’t be the same without the symmetrical thumbsticks and button layout. Without that it’d just be weird. Having a symmetrical tumbstick layout “is kind of in our DNA.” said Aoki. “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.”