Could The New DualShock Controller Be The Heart Of The PS4?
In a recent article I wrote concerning what to expect from the Playstation Meeting, I suggested that the PS4 reveal may not be the biggest announcement. Of course, to a gamer, the PS4 would be the most important announcement, but I was talking in terms of an industry shaker and the repercussions thereafter. There was a section of that article that I decided to remove because it was speculative at best, but after giving it some thought, I’ve decided to write this modest piece dedicated entirely to the proposition in my headline. It could be said that my Gaikai article was speculative too, but we do have some indication of what it brings to the table and I would consider what I wrote simply the ramification, or at least ‘potential’ of Gaikai. The same can’t be said about the inner workings of the new Dualshock. We can make guesses about what we see, but without more meaningful information, we can’t know exactly what all these changes bring to the table. I would suggest you take what I’m about to say with a large grain of salt, but I feel It’s worth consideration.
In the picture you can see that lots of features have changed. The overall look of the controller appears bulkier, with a slightly wider gap between the analogue sticks. The grips are longer and should help those people who always found the old Dualshock a little too small. The analogue sticks are convex with a ridge around the edge, presumably for better grip and less slippage. The ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ buttons have been moved upwards and in between these we find a touchscreen (or perhaps touchpad). Above this we see a strip of blue light which is likely to have something to do with motion control. What appears to be a speaker, can be seen between the analogue sticks. In a more recent picture, the ‘unknown’ feature here looks likely to be a headphone jack. The D-pad has been redesigned and is now more in line with the Vita’s D-pad, and the PS button has been lowered slightly. We have no idea what the rumoured improvements to the triggers are because none of the pictures clearly show them. Some have suggested that there are extra shoulder buttons but I would consider that impractical.
Now onto my speculation (bring your salt): One thing that jumps out immediately from the above picture is the increased feature set. The screen, the blue strip of light and the speaker are sure to increase the cost of producing the new controller. We don’t know whether they are going to cost more than the original Dualshocks in stores, but we can see quite clearly that they’re going to cost Sony more. For now, let’s assume they will cost more to buy from a store. How could Sony justify that extra cost? How could they make the purchase of extra controllers so compelling that we won’t think twice about paying ‘X’ amount more for the new design?
This actually brings us full circle back to my original article and what Gaikai, or as I coined it PSTV, could mean for this industry. To recap, I suggested that Sony would release Gakai as a channel and this channel would be available to most internet connected devices. This would spread PS games beyond the confines of the console and offer Sony and developers a much bigger audience for their software. The problem of course is that many devices do not offer the correct button configuration for most PS games. Some of these devices don’t even have buttons. The obvious solution here would be if you could pair your PS4 controller to any Gaikai enabled device. This would be a great idea if you wanted to jump into a game on your laptop, your pad or even your TV, but you would end up playing those games in isolation … What I mean by that is you wouldn’t be able to ‘continue’ where you left off.
So what solution is there? The answer is quite simple: Your ID is no longer associated with the console, but rather, it is associated with your controller. In other words, your controller becomes the key to access all of your content anywhere, any time, through any Gaikai enabled device. There would be no problem playing your own PSN collection at a friend house because all you would have to do is take your controller with you. This empowers you, the gamer, and protects Sony because, without your controller, your friend would not be able to access your content afterwards. But this solution offers even further benefits. Because the controller is paired to your account, even if your friend doesn’t have a PS4, you would still be able to show him your latest PSN collection, providing he had a Gaikai enabled TV, a laptop, a pad or even a decent phone.
Perhaps you can run with this idea and go further than I’ve suggested here. Perhaps you think it far fetched and unlikely to happen. Either way, I think it’s food for thought and I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.