Along with the first launch of the DualSense gamepad for the Playstation 5, Sony showed a clear desire to change one of the most recognizable elements of the Playstation brand. The new name, innovative features and finally the redesigned DualSense are quite bold steps within the Playstation family of gamepads. It is impossible to say how successful the new controller will be in the end until you can hold the device in your hands, so today we propose to look at the pages of history and remember how gamepads for Sony Playstation consoles have changed over the years and what revolutionary functions they had.
The first controller for the Sony Playstation game console was released in 1994 and, with all its unpretentious appearance, has become one of the most difficult elements of the console to develop. According to Ken Kuturagi, former chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony has spent as much time creating the look of the controller as it did designing the console itself.
If, when looking at the gamepad, you have flashbacks on the controller from the SNES, then this is to be expected. On the first prototypes of the Playstation Controller, it is noticeable that it was the Super Nintendo gamepad that was the basis for creating the device. In addition, representatives of Sony did not hide the influence of Nintendo. On prototypes, you can also see how Sony aimed to create a gamepad with a shape perfect for a two-handed grip, which ultimately became a revolutionary achievement for the Playstation controller.
Another important innovation that competitors have successfully copied is an additional pair of keys on the front of the device.
A revolutionary controller, the design of which since 1997 has become an integral part of almost all subsequent Sony Playstation gamepads. The main feature of the device is two analog sticks at once, which continued the idea in the Playstation Controller that the device should be conveniently operated with two hands. Along with the advent of analog sticks, the Analog button was added, with which the controller's operating mode was switched. Some games used Flightstick Mode, while others had to turn off the analog sticks altogether for comfortable play.
Opinion was divided over the Dual Analog. On the one hand, it had too long handles, which made it inconvenient for the Japanese and at the same time was not popular in the West, because the American versions were devoid of vibration. On the other hand, you can often hear the opinion of the Dual Analog as the best gamepad thanks to the sunken stick caps (they will return to Dualshock 4 later), as well as the convex and clearly distinguishable L2 and R2 keys.
At the end of 1997, Sony released the first model in the Dualshock series to replace the Dual Analog. The device, with minor modifications, repeated the design of the past controller, but at the same time it was equipped with two vibration motors, which became a distinctive feature of almost all subsequent gamepads on the console. The power level and duration of the vibration motors were regulated by game developers, which ultimately gave an inexhaustible scope of ideas for using technology in games: from the banal vibration when hitting the side of the track in racing projects to simulating a heartbeat in the first Silent Hill.
The more popular the gamepad became, the more games took advantage of its unique advantages. For example, you can think of Crash Bandicoot 3 or Ape Escape, which in 1999 became, in fact, the first video game on the Playstation to exclusively support Dualshock.
The next iteration of the Dualshock series of gamepads appeared with the release of the Playstation 2 and at first glance did not provide significant changes. Less weight, slightly more rigid and therefore precise stick travel, a wide range of gamepad colors for aesthetes and those who want to stand out - no revolutions. However, there were some innovations. The most noticeable is the presence of analog buttons that take into account the pressure of the press.
Lacking significant innovations, the Dualshock 2 boasted impressive continuity with other Sony Playstation consoles: the controller was perfect for playing many projects on the PS1 and PS3, which made it a truly "long-playing" device.
"Boomerang" is fully consistent with its name and in general looks like the gamepad was invented by alien engineers from a galaxy far, far away. The controller was unveiled alongside the Playstation 3 at E3 2005 and caused a mostly negative impression, so it's no surprise we never saw Boomerang on sale.
In reality, the controller model shown at the exhibition was not a complete device and was only a mock-up, which, due to its streamlined shape, was supposed to emphasize the main innovations of the gamepad - "6 axes of freedom" due to the presence of a gyroscope and an accelerometer. The 6 axes of freedom meant three spatial axes and three angles of rotation, which increased the number of possibilities for control in games.
Sixasis replaced the Boomerang by combining the familiar Dualshock 2 form factor with the 6 Axes of Freedom concept of the Boomerang gamepad and the R2 and L2 analog buttons. As a result, along with the first deliveries of Playstation 3, Sony fans received an almost perfect gamepad, which, moreover, could work as a wireless device via Bluetooth. And all would be fine, but because of the legal proceedings between Sony and Immersion Corporation Sixasis was deprived of two vibration motors.
The third version of the legendary Dualshock was announced in 2007 and already in 2008 completely replaced the Sixasis. The new gamepad was almost a complete copy of the Sixasis, but had two significant advantages - the return of the tactile feedback function due to the built-in vibration motors, as well as a longer operation of the built-in battery.
The official PS4 gamepad, which was released alongside the console and clearly proved Sony's desire to create a breakthrough gamepad, stuffing it with technological innovations. Among the main features of the Dualshock 4 are the touch panel, which simultaneously acts as an additional button, a speaker, a 3.5 mm headset jack, a light panel that can glow in different colors, SHARE and OPTIONS buttons, replacing a pair of SELECT and START.
Advanced technical stuffing and increased size of knobs have contributed to the fact that the recognizable design has undergone significant changes for the first time since the Dual Analog. Of course, not all of the innovations were often used in games, besides, thanks to the advanced technical stuffing, the battery life of the Playstation 4 gamepad has decreased. However, Sony should be given credit for its desire to be at the forefront of technological progress.
The Dualsense gamepad, along with the new name, brings several significant changes that should be expected from the official controller for the Playstation 5. The canonical design and form factor have been largely preserved, but due to the increased dimensions, colorless buttons, rounded shape, emphasis on white with an admixture black Dualsence looks a little unusual compared to the previous line of Sony Playstation gamepads.
In addition to the new design, the gamepad offers the return of all the functions of Dualshock 4 and several innovations - a built-in microphone, a CREATE button, which replaces SHARE (apparently, you can expect rich opportunities for editing your own game content) and adaptive triggers with a tactile feedback function. The new technology, due to the built-in vibration function inside the triggers, should convey the physical properties of surfaces and the intensity of certain actions, for example, when firing or pulling the bowstring, which in total will enrich the gaming experience.
Dualsence, it seems to us, due to technical features will become a rather expensive device to manufacture and may affect the final cost of the Playstation 5. You can read more about the possible price tag on Xbox Series X and PS5 in our separate material.
The Topic of Article: From Playstation Controller to Dualsense: How Sony Playstation Gamepads Changed.