PS4: Sony admits early DualShock 4 designs were closer to Xbox 360 controller

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:11 GMT By Dave Cook

PlayStation 4′s new DualShock 4 controller went through several revisions, but boss of the company’s product planning department Toshimasa Aoki has revealed that early designs were close to the current Xbox 360 pad layout.

Speaking with GamesBeat, Aoki recalled, “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.”

He added, “The feedback from the user test team said that we needed to test this version, the Xbox version, and this version. [But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] 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.”

Have you tried DualShock 4 yet? What do you think? Personally, I prefer the Xbox 360 stick layout, but admit that the DualShock 4 is – in my opinion – the better of the two next-gen devices.

Via Polygon.


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  1. monkeygourmet

    “is kind of in our DNA”

    Thats the worst reason to keep something the same…

    The functionality should be the only thing that matters. Im sure it’s a good controller, but would have loved to try a version with the left stick switched with the DPad.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. CyberMarco


    Nevermind… :)

    #2 1 year ago
  3. fengato

    Dave, what’s your issue with the X1 controller?

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Creteck

    I am happy they hold on to a design, closer to the original. I prefer the Dualshock over the Xbox controller. Not that i am a PS fanboy, i own both systems and have pre ordered both the next gens. But i would change the 360 controller for my Xbox and my PC anytime!

    #4 1 year ago
  5. salarta

    @2: “If I subjectively like it then that means it’s objectively better.”

    #5 1 year ago
  6. CyberMarco

    @4 On your PC you can, just use BetterDS3:

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @2 what? Our opinions don’t need to match man.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. CyberMarco


    Oops, my bad! I thought that sentence was from Aoki and not yours. :D

    #8 1 year ago
  9. GK

    PS3 controller was perfect for me.i hope so PS4 gonna be too.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @8 that’s quite alright :)

    #10 1 year ago
  11. CyberMarco

    @10 I see what you did there! ;)

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Lloytron

    Did this guy really say that the Xbox layout is better for shooters, and they got feedback from gamers on that, but chose to ignore that because that’s what they did previously?

    That’s the worst way to make such a decision. Why pay for studies if you are going to dismiss them? Stupid!

    #12 1 year ago
  13. tezzer1985

    I’m happy they have kept that design, cause I will own both PS4/XB1, and with the consoles becoming so similar at least the pads are different

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Creteck

    @6 Thanks, i am going to test this when i get home! :)

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Dave Cook

    @12 Yep. Xbox 360 pad is superior for shooters thanks to the stick layout, but I have issues with the new LB and RB buttons. They don’t feel responsive.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. zinc

    @12, No he did not. He said the peeps who like shooters, liked the idea.

    Sony make more than just shooters, so he figured changing a classic design to appease a select group would be a negligible benefit.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. DrDamn

    I think the issue with shooters is a lot more to do with the stick resistance, sensitivity etc than placement – at least for me. I prefer a symmetrical placement, but the 360 pad is much better than the DS3 in terms of how the sticks operate rather than where they are.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Lv01

    i still dont like the left stick above the d-pad style… its lopsided and i end up tilting the controller so that it isnt, but then the face buttons are at the wrong orientation… and then i die.

    @17 +1

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Vryxal

    Nothing can change my mind from the Xbox One, however I am glad to see that the ps4 is getting as much benefit as it can possibly get.

    Everyone has their own opinions, and they are all different. I’m just glad that lots of people are going for both consoles, than everyone going for one and no one going for the other.

    God bless you technology.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Lloytron

    @16, From the quotes in the article, he doesn’t give any other reason to dismiss the ‘shooter’ style controller over the classic PS style apart from the fact that it’s how they’ve always done it.

    I hope there is more to it than that, and that this was just an off the cuff remark.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. illuminatusv

    It is a question of brand recognition. Sony did the right thing in my opinion. But I still prefer the 360 Controller layout. Didn’t had new controllers in my own hands so I cannot say something to their feeiling in my hands.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. TrickyAudio

    They made the right choice in the end.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. pcbros

    “He added, ‘The feedback from the user test team said that we needed to test this version, the Xbox version, and this version. [But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] 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.’”

    Just like I said in a previous article. They know what users want but their pride will not allow them to make the change. Hopefully they can suck it up and design a controller based on what is best for users and not what’s best for their “look”.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. TheBlackHole

    So the ‘DNA’ was more important than the functional design?

    So thy WERE afraid to change from the status quo. Funny how much shit I got for suggesting that yesterday.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. Fin

    Man, I love the way all you guys have evaluated both nextgen controllers at length, and so are making accurate judgements that the DS4 is inferior because it kept the “DNA” of previous DSs.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. TheBlackHole


    The article suggests that Sony themselves chose the DS4 design route because of their brand history, not because it was the best design they could possibly create.

    Some of us have had the opportunity to use both at length. Many of us will work in the industry, don’t forget. And having tried them both, I think people’s favourites are not likely to change. The DS4 is a solid improvement over the DS3, while the Xbox controller is just incrementally improved, although the haptic feedback on the triggers is amazing.

    #26 1 year ago

    Sony are clearly obsessed with trying to beat MS next gen, whereas before, they’ve mostly just done their own thing.

    It might be interesting to see if being obsessed with outdoing another company makes your product better, or just makes you forget your own identity.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. zoopdeloop

    @23 Some users want… while many others want it the way it always was.The sticks are fine

    #28 1 year ago
  29. zinc

    I wonder how many PS3 owners have used the 360 pad? 10%? And how many of them preferred it?

    Don’t really think its necessary to change a iconic desgn, that works perfectly well, to appease a theorectical number of people.

    Of course 360 owners would disagree :)

    #29 1 year ago
  30. DrDamn

    Saying it’s in the DNA is a lot more than maintaining the Status Quo and keeping things as they are. It’s saying this is intrinsic, natural, essential.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. Joe Musashi

    I think there’s some pretty premature judgments and eager misinterpretation made in this topic. All we need is for some PC elitists to barge in, declaring Steam controller as better than all others.


    #31 1 year ago
  32. bradk825

    I’m glad the XB1 controller is similar to the 360, and I hope the RB and LB difference is just something that I can get used to over time. It would be naive to think it’s just a problem with Dave’s fingers, but I suppose the possibility is there ;-)

    Good on them to try something new because fans were asking for it, but I suppose there’s also a lot of danger in changing something that your core audience has been using since PS1. A lot of core PS players would likely have been miffed if the classic DualShock look and feel was gone.

    #32 1 year ago
  33. Cobra951

    “[But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] is kind of in our DNA.”


    Really, Sony? You get hung up on OCD aesthetics when designing something to be held and manipulated, not stared at? The left thumb goes on that analog stick the vast majority of the time. The Xbox layout is much easier on that thumb. The right thumb roams the buttons and its stick, so if you must have symmetry, that’s where you have some leeway–though I suggest that changing the layout on both sides is an unnecessary shock to your customer base. Just admit your competition had the better idea in this case alone, and follow their lead. Orthopedic doctors will hate you, and your buyers will eventually thank you.

    #33 1 year ago
  34. pcbros

    You can take what you want from that statement. They could have said, “We tested the 360 design and we felt some liked it, while others didn’t”. But instead they use their “DNA” and look as the reasons why they kept the dated design.

    #34 1 year ago
  35. Gekidami

    They’re damned if they do, damned if they dont. Considering how much dumb fanboys love to moan about Sony “Stealing” ideas, what would the reaction have been if they did use the same analogue placements as the 360? Yeah, we all know. People need to stop being hypocrites.

    #35 1 year ago
  36. Unknown_Gamer

    WTF is wrong with this community ?
    And who consider the crappy Xbox controller is more important than the PS Controller , are you people lose your minds , wake the f up and be thankful they didn’t do it .

    #36 1 year ago
  37. monkeygourmet

    I would have loved to see 2 designs available for people to purchase. I’m certain that switching the sticks around would make FPS, TPS games easier to control.

    #37 1 year ago
  38. TheBlackHole

    “what would the reaction have been if they did use the same analogue placements as the 360″

    I’d have bought a PS4. the controller is the one thing letting that console down.

    #38 1 year ago
  39. dontbescaredhomie92

    I know It’s probably not financially feasible at the launch of a console but in the future why couldn’t they have 2 separate controller designs?
    Personally I have no trouble playing any game on the 360, I actually prefer the offset sticks and the comfort is unparalleled, why shouldn’t PlayStation owners experience such comfort.

    #39 1 year ago
  40. CycloneFox

    The unsemetrical analog sticks is one of the few things about the Xbox360 gamepad that bugs me. I love those sticks and even as a Sony fanboy, I have to admit, that the stronger stick resistance is a good thing. But with this unsemetrical layout, I always get the impression, I’m soping all the time. Either have the layout of Nintenos or Sonys controllers, but in my opinion, at least, the Xbox360s stick-layout is the worst idea, because there are alot of games, where you have to use two sticks at the same time and almost no games, where you have to use the directional pad and the right stick at the same time.

    At the bottom line both controllers will be really good, even the best two controllers, ever created, I suppose. And it will be even more a matter of taste, which one you prefere, as both controllers got rid of their weaknesses and are even more equal now.

    #40 1 year ago
  41. GwynbleiddiuM

    Well, I like DualShock better anyway, I really don’t like Xbox 360′s controller. My brother is quite opposite, he can’t play well with a DualShock. The only real advantage the x360 controller have over DS is the analog sticks, everything else DS3 is just better IMO; D-Pad, pressure sensitive buttons.

    #41 1 year ago
  42. TheBlackHole

    @41 “The only real advantage the x360 controller have over DS is the analog sticks”

    That’s pretty much the most important thing on a controller though – how you control things.

    Also, I’d argue that the triggers are MUCH better on the 360 pad too.

    #42 1 year ago
  43. GwynbleiddiuM

    @42 I think triggers are a matter of personal preference, I’m actually more comfy with R2/L2 but I can see the appeal of the triggers in a shooter and it’s perfectly reasonable to favor those. But the analog isn’t a personal preference it’s a fact that those are better and more precise than DS3′s.

    #43 1 year ago
  44. Gheritt White

    I’ve tried both – there’s really not much in it and you’ll be happy with ether pad next gen.

    #44 1 year ago
  45. Javinator

    So Sony was trying to copy Xbox’s controller?
    Why am I not surprised.
    They copied the Wii’s Wiimote AND nunchuck.
    They copy everything. No originality.

    Xbox One=Xbox Won

    #45 1 year ago
  46. pcbros

    For me, this isn’t about which game pad design is better. That comes down to preference. My issue is with the reason they chose to keep their design.

    His comment can be translated, “We know a lot of users prefer that design but we want to keep this design because it looks more like a Playstation controller.”

    #46 1 year ago
  47. Arcnail

    Personally, I like the 360 controller over the PS3s.. which look to be pretty much the same come next gen. I am interested in the triggers having feedback on the Xbone controller, more so then the touch pad thing on the PS4.

    It’s all irrelevant anyways, seeing as both consoles have horrible launch games. When one of them finally gets a game I really want to play, that’ll be the deciding factor, not the controller.

    #47 1 year ago
  48. DrDamn

    His comment can also be translated as “We know a lot of users prefer that design, but we also know a lot of other users prefer the other design”. DNA is a lot more than not wanting to change. It means it’s intrinsic to the design.

    #48 1 year ago
  49. pcbros

    @48 – Definitely possible. But if so, why not state how a lot of people prefer the original design? Would have come off a lot better.

    “He added, ‘The feedback from the user test team said that we needed to test this version, the Xbox version, and this version. [But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] 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.’”

    DNA could refer to the design being part of who they are as well.

    #49 1 year ago
  50. Clupula

    I’m very glad they kept the symmetrical design. That just feels like one of those decisions that would have cost them in the long run, as many people, myself included, would not have bought the system if they had gone to a more Xbox-like look, just to try to please the shooter-crowd.

    The Dualshock is still the perfect controller for JRPG’s and fighting games (I prefer a pad to a stick), and for them to change things to appeal to the one genre not associated with Playstation would be P.R. suicide.

    #50 1 year ago
  51. TheBlackHole

    “gone to a more Xbox-like look, just to try to please the shooter-crowd.”

    Good analogue controls improve EVERY analogue controlled game, not just shooters.

    Not really sure why shooters are being singled out as the only games that benefit. Any third person game, RPG, shooter, exploration, doesn’t matter – all benefit from the better character control.

    #51 1 year ago

    They can do what they want to do, it’s their controller.

    If you want to play PS4, you’ll just have to get used to it.

    If not, where’s the problem?

    The DS4 is a hatchet job. The latest in a line of hatchet jobs, since they added the thumbsticks to the original PS1 controller.

    It’s not ergonomically designed from the ground up, but rather things were just ‘shoved on’ where they fit. First the thumbsticks, and now the touchpad.

    But if they see more brand value in keeping the same well known controller look, then that’s a marketing decision that they’re more than entitled to make.

    It’s just as silly to criticise Sony for making their own decisions, as it is to criticise MS for wanting to carry out their original vision of the X1.

    If you like their product, buy it. If you don’t, don’t buy it.


    #52 1 year ago
  53. RussellGorall

    I wish they would have gone with that layout, and not just because of FPS’s. All games seem more natural like that.

    That being said, the Dualshock 4 is a huge improvement.

    #53 1 year ago
  54. Clupula

    “All games seem more natural like that.”

    If you’re some sort of mutated freak with asymmetrical thumbs, I guess.

    For me, using a 360 controller has always been an awkward, uncomfortable experience, the few times I’ve played one over a friend’s place.

    #54 1 year ago


    What are you talking about?

    The original PlayStation controller was designed with no thumbsticks.

    Therefore, the D-pad was obviously put in the most comfortable (and “natural”) position for your left thumb, and the face buttons were obviously put in the most comfortable (and “natural”) position for your right thumb.

    Perfect symmetry.

    Then Nintendo came along with the thumbstick on the N64, and Sony decided that they didn’t want to miss out, so they added two, instead of one.

    Being that it wasn’t a brand new controller, but an added on feature in the middle of a console generation (and that there were hardly any games that used the thumbsticks, anyway), it had to keep the old form and functionality so that people could still use it with their old games. Thus, the thumbsticks just went where they fit. They went where there was empty space.

    In the middle.

    A place where it was, and remains, less comfortable (and “natural”) than where the D-pad and face buttons go.

    You use the left thumbstick for movement, so you’re basically always using it. So it makes sense to have it in the more natural position, with your thumb facing forward, where the D-pad currently is on the DS4.

    Your right thumb, however, frequently changes position between the thumbstick and the face buttons, so it’s less important where it goes.

    It’s nothing to do with having ‘symmetrical’ hands.

    Regardless, it’s obviously possible to get used to using the PS controller, as many millions of people clearly have.

    But this “oh my thumbz iz in teh same posishunn” stuff conveniently ignores the fact that the PS controller was specifically designed, from the ground up, to have the D-pad and the face buttons in the optimal position for your thumbs. And that thumbsticks were never part of the original design.

    #55 1 year ago
  56. TheBlackHole

    @55 +100

    Excellent summary. Spot on.

    #56 1 year ago
  57. Lv01

    @55 i agree with that logic completely, despite preferring the PS design.

    except… you are countering every argument ever written on here that says the xbox design is better for FPSs…
    seeing as for an FPS, you constantly have both thumbs on thumbsticks, and use the shoulder buttons for firing, making the right stick positioning not the optimal position for an FPS (or it would be where the face buttons are). on the PS controller however, the symmetry of the two sticks, despite neither being optimally placed, therefore makes the PS controller better for FPSs. by that logic.

    in all honesty though, as much as i prefer the layout of the PS controller, but it is the shoulder buttons that the xbox always did better. theyve been redesigned for the DS4, and so should wipe that advantage out. will be interested to feel how this haptic feedback thing on the xbox one controller works however. could keep it ahead on that front.

    #57 1 year ago
  58. TheBlackHole


    “on the PS controller however, the symmetry of the two sticks, despite neither being optimally placed, therefore makes the PS controller better for FPSs. by that logic.”

    That doesn’t make any sense. Having two poorly placed sticks is not better than having one poorly placed one, surely?

    #58 1 year ago
  59. Lv01

    @58 i was referring to the symmetry. which was GIGAs point about the left stick and the face buttons. as symmetry between the left stick and face buttons was provided as the reason and logic behind the positioning of the left stick above the d-pad, im applying that logic to FPSs. therefore, using the point that symmetry makes the left stick above the d-pad better (as it lines up with the face buttons), the symmetry of the two sticks on a PS pad (as required to play an FPS) must make that better?

    that was my only point, and for the record, i wasnt applying opinion there, just previous logic. which was logic that did make sense originally, as i said, i agreed with GIGAs evaluation. i was simply extrapolating that evaluation.

    #59 1 year ago
  60. DrDamn

    That’s a well reasoned argument but it does rely on the basis that the original PS controller design was actually correct. What if it wasn’t? :)

    Isn’t the MS design also tempered somewhat having to fit things in where they will fit? The d-pad also needs to be accessible so isn’t the position of both somewhat of a compromise? The natural and ideal placement is perhaps somewhere in between the two? If you compare overhead pictures of 360 vs X1 and PS3 vs PS4 controllers you can see evolution has shifted the stick to the more central position. It’s not top or bottom which is optimal, it’s in between. :)

    #60 1 year ago


    But you’ve missed the key point, which was the original position was designed for a forward facing thumb.

    You could have symmetrical set of thumbsticks that require you to hold your thumbs at an awkward angle, and the symmetry would mean nothing.

    The key point was the optimal placement of the left thumbstick, as TBH mentioned.

    #61 1 year ago
  62. DrDamn

    Edit – thought the response was to me :) – apologies. I think the below is still useful in the context of this discussion though.

    I’m talking about the optimal left thumb stick placement.

    Look at the thumb stick placement vs the left most point of the controller between this …
    and this …

    Specifically the angle from the leftmost point of the whole pad to the stick. MS are moving the stick inwards away from a forward facing thumb position.

    Sony from the opposing start point are doing similar …
    and this …

    The stick is moving up and towards the left with the d-pad being pushed further to the left.

    #62 1 year ago
  63. Lv01

    @61, no i got that point! and i agreed with it.
    i was just saying, as a reference to all the previous posters mainly and the general consensus, that stated that FPSs are better with the xbox design, that the forward facing thumb is not applicable to the right stick. and so symmetry there may very well make it so. (note the ‘may’, again this is not opinion-based, i was simply extrapolating!)

    but i also agree and get that holding symmetrical sticks at an awkward angle would make the symmetry null and mute. but the sticks arent at that much of an awkward position, theyre just not ideal, like the left stick is on the xbox controller.

    #63 1 year ago
  64. zinc

    Next week, join the exciting debate of “chopsticks or forks?”

    #64 1 year ago
  65. Legendaryboss

    LOL :P Definitely forks ;)

    #65 1 year ago
  66. DrDamn

    Are you mad? Chopsticks are more versatile. Chopsticks or knife *and* fork is the more interesting one ;)

    #66 1 year ago
  67. Legendaryboss

    Messed up in the head, forks are more comfortable to use and eat with though with chopsticks you have to fight to grab/eat food :)

    Its happening.

    #67 1 year ago
  68. DrDamn

    Forks more comfortable? Look at the thumb placement, it is much more natural on a chopstick. :D

    #68 1 year ago
  69. Joe Musashi

    You’re both wrong!


    #69 1 year ago
  70. pcbros

    @55 – Pretty much sums it up.

    The analogs were an afterthought and never considered in the original controller design. It was implemented in a d-pad heavy era. The placement of the analog sticks became a trademark of theirs because they haven’t changed it’s placement in decades.

    So now Sony is, in a sense, forced to use that placement (whether ideal or not) to keep the “look” of the Playstation. Good for Sony, bad for gamers. I rather they design a controller that they feel will be best for gamers and not their image. But business is business…

    #70 1 year ago
  71. DrDamn

    Except the placement isn’t the same with the DS4, in basic relation to other elements yes, but the position and angle you’ll have your thumb at? No. Further apart, higher up with the d-pad being squeezed out to the side more.

    Compare this …
    and this …

    #71 1 year ago
  72. zoopdeloop

    @70 “Bad for Xbox gamers”
    fixed that for you.
    Most who played a lot of playstation throughout 3 generations are very comfortable with the controller.Let’s leave it at that

    anyhow is this still going on?Xbox fanboys will argue (herd derp) about the inferiority of the ps controller.It’s pointless

    #72 1 year ago


    Wow, I didn’t realise the big change in the DS4 until now. That’s quite a big change there, and the thumbstick is moving closer to the left of the pad, and more towards the forward facing position.

    The thumbsticks on both controllers do seem to be moving closer to each other, which makes sense if it’s the best place for the left thumb to be.

    These controllers may well end up like modern supercars, sooner or later, where the shape is more or less exactly the same due to ergonomics.

    #73 1 year ago
  74. vOL


    This pointless debate of being “optimally positioned”,”more practical” continue to this point mainly because of the half-assed,flamebait article by Polygon and VG24/7 just referencing it. If you guys read the full article of what Aoki-san said, this debate would not reach to 30th at all.

    Different article title but same content:

    #74 1 year ago

    “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],” he said. “Especially from the shooter teams–we got feedback that that’s what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.”

    Aoki explained that Sony tested numerous combinations of analog stick placements, including two sticks at the bottom (like the DualShock 3), two sticks offset (like the Xbox 360), and two sticks at the top (like the Wii U GamePad or Pro Controller).

    “When Nintendo came out with that, we were like, ‘Wow, that’s just like our prototype!’ That surprised us,” Aoki said.

    Ultimately, however, that stick placement “just wouldn’t work” because it would break players’ muscle memory, Aoki said.

    Sorry, but to me, that looks like he’s saying that they know that there is much room for improvement with the DS for shooters, but that they decided against changing too much, because people are already used to the current position.

    Which is a bit silly…

    Regardless, I think it’s clear from all of this, as well as the newly ‘relocated’ thumbsticks, that Sony themselves admitted that the DS4 needed to improve, and that the left thumbstick on the 360 was a motivating factor.

    To me, that makes it obvious where your left thumb should be.

    #75 1 year ago
  76. Panthro

    This argument still going?

    #76 1 year ago
  77. pcbros

    @71 – Nice observation. It is slightly different though.

    @72 – Some people can’t adapt to change, some can. I say, bring whatever they feel is best for gamers and not their brand. If they think the current DS stick layout is best for gamers, then so be it.

    Just don’t tell me you think there might be improvements that could be made but decided against them to protect the brand or so that gamers wouldn’t get “confused”.

    #77 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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